River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio has branded one of the club’s fans an ‘idiot’ for an attack on Barcelona forward Lionel Messi in Tokyo-Narita airport.
Messi was treated to a barrage of verbal abuse in the airport with one fan actually spitting at him.
The disgusting act came after Messi had scored in Barcelona’s Club World Cup final win against River. This is despite the Argentine hero putting his hands up apologetically rather than celebrate the goal.
Speaking to Fox Sports, D’Onofrio said: “There’s always some idiot, to put it mildly. I’ve just read that Messi had problems in the airport with some fan. Messi is a gentleman.
“When he scored the goal he raised his hands in apology. He congratulated the club for having gone as far as 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.”
Messi almost signed for River when he was a boy looking for a club to cover the costs of his hormone treatment but the South American side were trumped by Barcelona’s forthcoming offer.
River coach Marcelo Gallardo has also apologised to his compatriot on behalf of the club.