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SPORTS | 13-12-2022 09:45

'¿Qué mirás, bobo?' – Messi 'fool' taunt spawns merch boom in Argentina

Lionel Messi's World Cup taunt has prompted a merchandise boom, with local businesses wasting no time plastering the slogan on a variety of products, prompting a merchandise boom.

"¿Qué mirás, bobo? Andá payá." 

It roughly translates to "What are you looking at, fool? Get lost!" And the phrase is already ubiquitous. Lionel Messi's World Cup taunt of Dutch player Wout Weghorst has captured the attention of the nation, delighting local businesses, where the phrase has made its way onto mugs, shirts and other products.

In a video that went viral online in the aftermath of Argentina's quarter-final win over the Dutch, the Albiceleste skipper was shown being interviewed. Quizzed about the stormy clash with the Netherlands, Messi's eyes drift off camera. He then launches his words in the direction of Weghorst, the Dutch substitute whose two late goals pushed the two teams into extra time and penalties, while the reporter struggles to get his attention.

Argentina emerged victorious, but Messi fumed after the fractious match at the referee who gave Weghorst a free kick. The sport's world governing body FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against both teams after a World Cup record of 18 yellow cards and multiple mass confrontations during the game.

But in Argentina, a saltier Lionel Messi has drawn comparisons with Diego Maradona, a troubled genius known for fiery moments both on and off the field.

Local businesses wasted no time plastering the slogan on a variety of products, with mugs selling for 1,600 pesos (US$9), T-shirts for 2,900 pesos, and caps for 3,900 pesos.

"We made the T-shirts right away. The phrase went viral because in another stage, Messi had a calm, low profile. But people wanted him to have a bit of Diego [Maradona] spiciness," said clothing designer Tony Molfese, 31, at a store in Buenos Aires.

For many in Argentina, the language Messi used is far milder than what can be heard on the streets. It certainly differs from the more common option: "¿Qué mirás, pelotudo?"

"I thought the phrase was great, so innocent and tender" compared to what you usually hear in Argentina's sporting world, said 67-year-old Graciela Squietino, who bought T-shirts for her three grandsons.




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