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“Respect Elders”: Lionel Messi Reacts After Manuel Ugarte’s Obscene Gesture Towards Rodrigo De Paul During World Cup Qualifier

Uruguay ended Argentina’s 14-match unbeaten streak with a 2-0 victory over the world champions in FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers on Thursday. Defender Ronald Araujo fired Uruguay ahead on 41 minutes before Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez made the game safe with an 87th-minute goal on the counterattack to settle a hard-fought clash at the Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires. The game was filled with clashes and one of them included a verbal fight between Uruguay’s Manuel Ugarte and Argentina’s Rodrigo de Paul.

Ugarte made an obscene gesture towards De Paul that seemigly involved Messi. Ugarte allegedly said De Paul that the World Cup winner is Messi’s “bottle feeder”.

After the game, Messi reacted, saying that his South American rivals needed to learn to respect.

“It’s normal. These kinds of games, qualifiers, against Uruguay, it’s always like that. I prefer not to say what I think. Young people have to learn to respect their elders. This classic was always intense, hard, but always with a lot of respect. They have to learn a little,” said Messi.

It was Lionel Messi and Argentina’s first defeat of the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign, and their first loss since they were stunned 2-1 by Saudi Arabia at the 2022 finals in Qatar.

“We never felt comfortable,” Messi said after the defeat.

“They’re a physical team that works well and on the counterattack they were very dangerous,” added Messi, praising the work of Uruguay’s revered Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa.

“You can see his hand in the team. In all the teams or clubs he’s been involved in, including Argentina, you can see his hand,” said Messi.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni meanwhile backed his team to recover in time for next week’s showdown with Brazil.

“There is a very difficult game coming up and we will try to do our best; I think this team has shown plenty of times that it can get out of difficult situations,” Scaloni said.

“We lose and win as a team, and there are times when you have to give credit to the opponent,” Scaloni added.

“We can’t think that because we’re world champions, we can’t lose. We are not unbeatable — I’ve said it before and will continue to say it.”

Argentina, who had won all four of their opening qualifiers, remain on top of the standings with 12 points from five matches. Uruguay’s win leaves them in second place on 10 points.

(With AFP Inputs)

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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