Tokyo: River Plate president Rodolfo D'Onofrio has condemned the actions of supporters who allegedly abused Barcelona forward Lionel Messi at the airport following Sunday's FIFA Club World Cup final in Japan.
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According to media reports, Messi was spat at and insulted by some River fans as the Barcelona squad prepared to fly home following their 3-0 victory over the Argentine side.
Messi, the Argentina captain, scored the opening goal in the match as Barca lifted their third Club World Cup crown. In quotes reported by AS, River president D'Onofrio told Fox Sports: "There's always some idiot, to put it mildly.
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"I've just read that Messi had problems in the airport with some fan. Messi is the best player of Argentine football, he's a gentleman... when he scored the goal he raised his hands apologising.
"He congratulated the club for having got where 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."
River coach Marcelo Gallardo added of the airport incident on www.ole.com.ar: "I didn't see it, but I've been told about it.
"I want to condemn this behaviour, behaviour that is out of place. You need to be respectful. He's a player who was born in our country, is the best in the world and plays for our national team.
"Give him the respect he deserves. I don't agree with this behaviour at all."