Argentina’s Media Boycott Fails To Put An End To Lavezzi Controversy
Last night, after Argentina’s 3-0 victory against Colombia, Lionel Messi, shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the Argentine squad, announced that the national team would no longer speak with the media, following the “serious accusations” leveled at teammate Ezequiel “Pocho” Lavezzi by journalist Gabriel Anello.
With folded arms, the Argentine captain, who was instrumental is the team’s comprehensive 3-0 win, told the gathered press: “We’ve received many accusations, a lot of lack of respect and we never said anything but this is the worst yet”.
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The Selección had been heavily criticized in the lead up to the game against Colombia after a string of poor performances left their qualification for the 2018 World Cup in serious doubt. And while Messi and co. have not taken well to some of the things written about them in the media, the decision to not speak with the media was triggered by Anello’s conversation with Radio Mitre. The journalist claimed that a reliable source had seen “Pocho” smoking marijuana in the Argentine team’s training camp.
“The accusation against Pocho is very serious because if we don’t say anything, people believe it’s true, so we’d prefer to put all those rumors to bed at once,” Messi announced, with Lavezzi by his side.
“We’re sorry it has to be this way, but there’s no other option.” Messi’s last words before a sassy mic drop and silent, synchronized squad walk out. If all those folded arms didn’t quite do the trick, we knew at that point that the players were pretty pissed.
And this wasn’t the first denial of Anello’s claims. Hours before the game in San Juan, Lavezzi announced via twitter that he would be taking legal action against the journalist for his “false allegations”.
— Ezequiel Lavezzi (@PochoLavezzi) November 15, 2016
“I’m announcing through this medium that I am going to take up legal action against Gabriel Anello for the false statements against me [and] for the serious damage that they have caused for my family and my work”
But in spite of Lavezzi’s unequivocal denial of Anello’s allegations and the Argentine squad’s protest, Anello is not backing down. Last night, the journalist reaffirmed his allegations and criticized the squad’s protest. Speaking to Fox Sports, Anello said that Messi’s statement was “total nonsense” and went as far as calling the players “cowards”, before adding a considerable amount of fuel to the fire, saying that he “would love Lavezzi to take him to court” so that he could “reveal more things about his personal life”. Well that’s a bit catty now, Gabriel.
Makes you think, is there any truth in any of this? The media loves this kind of malicious controversy-sparking to-and-fro and Anello knows that only too well as a journalist himself.
“The squad has created the Streisand effect, loads of people who didn’t know what Anello had said or even who Anello was, now know”
So have Messi and his teammates just done exactly what Anello wanted? More people will be talking about this now. And just like Leo said, people love to believe rumors. The players’ protest inadvertently has the effect of propagating the Lavezzi rumor and making a name for Anello. “I don’t care whether I get on well with a player or director, I don’t make a living from them, I make a living from my journalism,” Anello said, trying to justify his attack on Lavezzi. A self-serving journalist by admission, it would be no surprise if all this is a far-fetched ploy to further his own career. And I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more of his name in the coming weeks because neither side looks like they’re going to be backing down anytime soon.