Argentina’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has sparked more backlash after being accused of performing a “disgusting” act during his side’s victory parade in Buenos Aires. Fans came from all over to turn the capital city into a veritable sea of blue and white on Tuesday local time (Wednesday AEDT), with crowd figures reported to be between four and five million people.
Lionel Messi was of course the focal point after guiding his country to a third World Cup and first since Diego Maradona’s side in 1986. It capped off an incredible chapter in the career of Messi – regarded by many as the greatest player the game has ever seen. Unsurprisingly, the 35-year-old icon and his team were swamped by ecstatic supporters in the football-mad country of 46 million people, with the open-top bus parade brought to a stand-still at one point.
Martinez – Argentina’s goalkeeping hero in the penalty shootout – also grabbed plenty of limelight after toting around a doll with a cut-out of Kylian Mbappe’s face attached to it. The doll came complete with a nappy on and Martinez reportedly also demanded a minute’s silence “for Mbappe who is dead” at one stage during the celebrations.
The keeper has already been condemned around the world for his gamesmanship towards the French players in the shootout, after holding onto the ball and even kicking it away from a rival player at one point. Martinez was also condemned for using his Golden Glove trophy – awarded to the best keeper at the World Cup – as a sexual prop that he held above his crotch and pumped towards the crowd in Qatar.
He spoke out in the wake of the backlash sparked by his X-rated act during the presentation ceremony by insisting that it was directed towards French fans who had jeered him during the final. “I did it because the French booed me,” Martinez told Argentine radio station La Red. “Pride does not work with me.”
However, football fans couldn’t work out why he would troll Mbappe by carrying around a doll with the French superstar’s face on it though, with many labelling it a “classless” and “disgusting” act from the player. The fact that Messi – who is Mbappe’s teammate at Paris Saint-Germain – was standing next to him in many of the photos, made it even worse.
“Seriously, why would Emi Martinez do this? You won the World Cup – just enjoy the adulation? ” football pundit Simon Hill wrote on Twitter. Other fans were more scathing towards the Argentina keeper.
Martinez’s display with the Mbappe doll came amid wild celebrations in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, where millions of ecstatic fans flooded the streets on Tuesday (Wednesday) local time to celebrate the victorious squad’s return home. The heaving crowd brought an open-top bus parade to a standstill as fans celebrated wildly in chaotic scenes.
Many fans were seen stripping their clothes off and celebrating naked through the streets, while others were seen trying to jump off bridges and onto the top of the bus carrying the players.