Former Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal has made a sensational claim, suggesting that Lionel Messi’s World Cup victory was rigged.
Despite several previous international disappointments, Messi led Argentina to their first World Cup triumph since 1986 in Qatar, where they defeated France in a penalty shootout following an exhilarating 3-3 draw.
Messi, who won the Golden Ball award, scored twice, while Kylian Mbappe netted a hat-trick. The match was eventually decided by Gonzalo Montiel’s successful penalty kick at Lusail Stadium.
It seemed as if it was Lionel Messi’s destiny to finally capture the World Cup title and solidify his football legacy in his fifth World Cup appearance. However, Van Gaal, whose Netherlands team was eliminated by the eventual champions in the quarter-finals via a penalty shootout, has taken a more controversial stance.
During their intense encounter, which saw a remarkable 18 yellow cards and one red card issued by referee Mateu Lahoz, Van Gaal’s side suffered defeat.
And he believes the game was a “premeditated” one – hinting as though it was almost set up for Messi to become a world champion.
“I don’t really want to say much about it,” he told Dutch outletNOSat the Eredivisie Awards on Tuesday.
“When you see how Argentina gets the goals and how we get the goals, and how some Argentina players overstepped the mark and were not punished, then I think it was a premeditated game.”
“I mean everything I say,” Van Gaal clarified when journalists asked what he was alluding to.
“That Messi should become world champion? I think so, yes.”
Messi displayed an ear-cupping celebration in front of Van Gaal that was 20 years in the making and the 72-year-old stepped down from his position, allowing Ronald Koeman to return to the hotseat.
In response, Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has distanced himself and the rest of the squad from Van Gaal’s comments in a new interview.
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) September 5, 2023
He told NOS: “Van Gaal’s words about Messi? He can say what he wants, it’s his opinion, but I do not agree with him and I don’t share the same opinion.”