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Rediff.com  » Sports » Messi punched River Plate fan after being spat at?

Messi punched River Plate fan after being spat at?

Last updated on: December 21, 2015 23:29 IST

Madrid-based daily Marca added that the group of supporters were also heckling ex-River player Mascherano, criticising him for "forgetting" his roots

Lionel Messi

IMAGE: Lionel Messi look out from the dug-out. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Barcelona star Lionel Messi was spat at by a River Plate fan during an ugly airport altercation following his side's 3-0 victory in the Club World Cup final in Japan, Spanish media reported on Monday.

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According to AFP, reports suggested that Messi, who scored the opening goal in Sunday's final, reportedly retaliated with a punch after being subjected to a series of insults from fans of the Argentine club as he was preparing to board a flight home from Tokyo's Narita airport.

"An ugly incident occurred at Narita international airport. When Barcelona players were getting ready to go through passport control and security, several River fans insulted Messi and the issue escalated to the point that one of them spat at Messi," Spanish sports daily AS reported.

According to several reports across Spain, an irate Messi responded by "punching" the fan who spat at him, before Barca coach Luis Enrique and team-mates Javier Mascherano and Luis Suarez stepped in to defuse the situation.

However, Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo explained that shortly after the incident Messi was seen to be "smiling" and relaxed, "playing down the significance of the event".

Madrid-based daily Marca added that the group of supporters were also heckling ex-River player Mascherano, criticising him for "forgetting" his roots, with Mascherano having come through the youth ranks at the Buenos Aires club before making his professional debut with them in 2003.

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