Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal claims that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was rigged to favour Lionel Messi.
Messi met van Gaal and the Netherlands in the quarter-finals as he led Argentina to a historic World Cup victory in December 2022.
The Dutch manager questions the competition’s integrity, implying that it might have been manipulated to hand Messi the trophy that had long eluded him.
“I don’t really want to say much about it. When you observe how Argentina scores goals compared to how we score goals, and how some Argentine players exceeded the limits without repercussions, then I believe it was a premeditated game,” Van Gaal stated.
The former Barcelona man spoke on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, at the Eredivisie Awards, where he was being recognized for his contributions to Dutch football.
The 72-year-old was unequivocal when journalists pressed him to elaborate on his contentious assertion.
“I mean everything I say. Do I believe Messi was destined to become a world champion? I think so, yes.”
The quarter-final showdown itself unfolded as nothing short of dramatic.
Argentina seized the lead when Nahuel Molina capitalized on a brilliant diagonal pass from Messi.
Subsequently, Messi expanded Argentina’s advantage with a penalty in the 73rd minute.
Nevertheless, Dutch substitute Wout Weghorst ignited a late-game resurgence, netting two pivotal goals.
Why did Argentina vs the Netherlands make headlines?
The clash also gained notoriety due to the issuance of an astonishing 16 yellow cards to players from both teams.
Contributing to the chaos, Dutch right-back Denzel Dumfries received a red card during extra time.
Astonishingly, Argentina finished the game without a single send-off, despite eight of their squad members receiving yellow cards.
Argentina went on to win their third World Cup by beating France 4-2 on post-match penalties after the high-voltage final at the Lusail Stadium ended in a 3-3 draw.