By Kimberly J. Avalos
By Kimberly J. Avalos
Rabat – Argentines are planning a march in Buenos Aires on Saturday to try and convince Messi to continue playing, as reported by Wall Street Journal.
Lionel Messi’s announcement that he is retiring from international football has prompted a national push to persuade the forward to stay, including pleas from Argentina legend Diego Maradona and the country’s president, according to BBC.
After losing in a penalty shootout in the finals of the Copa America tournament, Messi told reporters that he was finished playing for Argentina after failing to win a major trophy for his home country in the game against Chile Sunday, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri said he called Messi to tell him “how proud he feels of the national team’s performance and asked him not to listen to the criticism,” according to BBC.
He added he hopes to meet the player next week and convince him to return to the national team.
“The truth is that it’s good fortune, a joy, a gift from God to have the best player in the world in a country like ours that is so football-crazy,” added Macri.
Maradona, who has been critical of Messi and Argentina’s team—and who managed it at the 2010 World Cup—according to the Wall Street Journal, said he hopes Messi would reconsider in order to prepare for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“Messi has to continue in the team, he has to continue,” he said. “He’s going to arrive in Russia in condition to be a world champion.”
Messi’s announcement has also prompted a campaign across social media, urging him not to quit. Millions are tweeting using the hashtag #NoTeVayasLio (Don’t Go Lio), one of the many hashtags to have emerged following the news.
“Se termino para mi la Selección…” Messi
Es recontra comprensible pero por favor #NoTeVayasLio
— Juann Valdivia (@JuanValdivia_07) June 27, 2016
— MESSISTATS (@MessiStats) June 29, 2016
Messi said after Sunday’s defeat that the national team was “over” for him, and that “it hurts not to be champion,” according to BBC.
— barcastuff (@barcasstuff) June 28, 2016
— Argentina Football (@ARG_soccernews) June 29, 2016
The best ever in the history of football, your time hasn’t come yet, you still got to do it for your country. ???? #NoTeVayasLio
— Izzy (@izzygonzalez10) June 28, 2016
Messi has had a combined career in soccer between his country and Spain—where he left to when he was 13 years old to train at Barcelona’s academy and where he won a slew of league titles and personal accolades.
Argentina, on the other hand has not faced similar success: Argentina lost the World Cup final to Germany in 2014, and the defeat on Sunday was the second time in two years Argentina have lost the America final to Chile on penalties.
Messi has subsequently been criticized for “forgetting about the country,” according to WSJ, and faces high expectations from his country.
Argentina are already six games into their qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup. They are third in the table, two points behind leaders Uruguay.