'I apologised to Messi and admitted I was wrong – but not because of pressure from trolls'

Lionel Messi received an apology from Canelo Alvarez following his World Cup outburst (Image: Getty)

Boxing phenomenon Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has opened up on why he apologised to Lionel Messi following their 2022 World Cup row. The two monoliths of sport had an unexpected rivalry during the tournament in Qatar, which was sparked after Messi’s Argentina beat Mexico in the group stage.

It was after that 2-0 win for La Albiceleste that footage emerged of Messi, 37, kicking a Mexico shirt in the victors’ dressing room. However, those scenes didn’t sit well with the king of the super middleweight division.

Alvarez was vehement in his anger on X shortly after the incident, telling his followers: “He (Messi) better pray to God I never find him.” However, he has since apologised to the eight-time Ballon d’Or-winner and admitted his fault in the furore.

The undisputed champion took to social media once more in November 2022 and admitted he “got carried away with the passion and love” he feels for his country. He went on to apologise “to Messi and the people of Argentina” for his initial response over shirt-gate, and has this week explained why he did so.

“You have to admit when you are wrong. It doesn’t make you better or worse. You have to admit when you make a mistake,” Canelo told Univision Fresno. “The euphoria of supporting the Mexican team at that moment and to see them losing like that… well obviously you don’t put too much thought into your actions. But you have to recognise when you mess up and that’s it.”

Canelo, 33, was eager to stress it wasn’t the pressure placed on him by social media users that made him think on his words. However, he still had the humility to realise his over-reaction at the time.

Alvarez was very unhappy with Messi after witnessing the dressing room scenes (Image: Getty)

Messi, of course, went on to spearhead Argentina’s run to the World Cup crown and finally end his search for the international honour that had long eluded the legend. Lionel Scaloni’s side suffered a shock upset at Saudi Arabia’s hands in their opening fixture but recovered to lift the title for the first time since 1986.

Mexico, on the other hand, missed out on a spot in the knockout stage by the slimmest of margins. Despite beating Saudi Arabia in their final pool fixture, El Tri were eliminated on goal difference as Poland instead took second place in their group.

Messi has since moved to moved to Major League Soccer after joining Inter Miami in 2023. All signs suggested Qatar would be his World Cup swan song, but he’s since sparked rumours he could be fit to feature at the 2026 tournament, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

That scheduling could again put the Argentina legend on a collision course with Canelo’s Mexico, who are already qualified as hosts. However, Messi may take a little more care who’s shirt he’s booting this time around.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1916201/lionel-messi-world-cup-canelo-alvarez