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Messi defended by River president after fan attack

Lionel Messi’s treatment at the hand of ‘some idiot’ River Plate fans at Tokyo-Narita airport has been criticised by the Argentine club’s president, Rodolfo D’Onforio.

Barcelona star Messi found the back of the net as the European champions overcame River 3-0 in Sunday’s Club World Cup final in Yokohama.

Upon their departure from Japan, Luis Enrique’s side were heckled by River fans, with one reportedly going to the extent of spitting at Messi.

The River president was disappointed by the reports and only had praise for the Barca attacker.

“There’s always some idiot, to put it mildly. I’ve just read that Messi had problems in the airport with some fan,” D’Onforio told FOX Sports.

“Messi is a gentleman. When he scored the goal he raised his hands apologising.

“He congratulated the club for having got where we did, and he told me that when he was a youngster he was on the verge of becoming a River player.

“So I applaud him. You need to know how to lose and when to recognise the other team were better.”

River coach Marcelo Gallardo was disappointed with the lack of respect shown to Messi.

“I did not see the incident, but I reject that attitude – it’s out of place,” he told Ole.

“He is a footballer born in our county, the best in the world and who plays for Argentina. Give him the respect he deserves.”

Opposition fans also taunted Javier Mascherano, but D’Onforio is hoping to entice him back to El Monumental.

“We were talking with Mascherano and of course we are trying to seduce him to return,” he added.

“He ended a cycle in which he has won everything. I feel we need to strengthen the team. You cannot retain players who have won everything.”

Mon 21 Dec, 2015
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