The most photo liked of Instagram history, with more than 74,362,000 “likes” on the @leomessi account, it is also the story of confusion. The World Cup that Lionel Messi showed to the Argentine fans at the Lusail stadium in Qatar, minutes after becoming world champion on December 18, is not the original FIFA trophy. It was, in reality, a handmade replica that a couple of Buenos Aires fans had ordered to be made in Argentina and taken to Doha as an expression of wishes and a kind of souvenir.
In the midst of the albiceleste euphoria after the final won against France, that apocryphal Cup (trout, in Argentine slang) went from the stands to the field of play and ended up in the hands of the Argentine captain, who held it for several minutes without knowing that it was not the same one that, a while before, he had received from the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, at the award ceremony. Alerted by his teammate Ángel Di María, Messi himself found out about the misunderstanding a while later, still on the pitch, and, far from pretending to be annoyed, he took it as a joke.
Users of social networks in Argentina, on the other hand, blame the couple of fans from anonymity for having spoiled tens and hundreds of thousands of iconic photos – background screens on phones and computers, posters in rooms – in which Messi and other champions they hold a false object of desire.
Two days after the final, Fernando de la Orden, a photographer for Argentine newspapers Clarion Y oléposted on his account instagram one of the images he had taken in Qatar and which seemed more curious than revealing: a laughing dialogue between Di María, with the World Cup in his hands, and Messi. Asked from Buenos Aires by another photojournalist, Santiago Bluguermann, if he had heard that exchange of words, the photographer from Clarion He replied: “Di María told Leo that he had done the (mini) lap (Olympic) with a trout cup, he had the real one, that’s why they laughed.” The topic seemed to end there, in fact Bluguermann said goodbye (“Great! Thank you! Since Sunday I was trying to find out what they were laughing at!”) but then Paula Zuzulich, an Argentine fan in Qatar, entered the scene. “Fernando, we own the trout cup and we pass it on to the players on the field. Very funny. Thank you,” she wrote to him.
Zuzulich and the Order had met during the World Cup. “In Qatar I took a photo of my daughter and she started to follow me. I uploaded a photo of Leo and Di María, I told about the Trout Cup and the girl’s mother turned out to be the owner”, reconstructs de la Orden, who on her return to Argentina visited Paula and her husband, Manuel Zaro, at their home from La Plata, 60 kilometers from Buenos Aires. They both showed Clarion the inauthentic World Cup, which they kept back in their home, and explained why it was so similar to the original: “Before the World Cup we contacted people who are dedicated to making cups and it took them six months to make it. It has the weight of the original, it is made with resin and quartz inside and bathed with a gold-like paint. There are some details, marks and reliefs that are not similar, but the difference is minimal”.
Manuel and Paula also recounted the route of the Cup that Messi and other players had in their hands: “The idea was that the players could sign it, but in the end the Cup entered the field of play three times. The first one was taken by a relative of (Leandro) Paredes, and he signed it. The second time they asked us for it and it was 45 minutes, it went from one player to another, from one family member to another, and they took photos. In the stands they told me ‘you lost the Cup’. We had fun but we wanted him back. There I yelled at a couple of players ‘if you see the Cup that Paredes has, it’s ours’, and in the end Lautaro Martínez brought it, who also signed it. FIFA personnel came there and asked us to confirm that it was not the original”.
The trophy that Infantino gave Messi had actually only been on the pitch for a handful of minutes: it’s called the Winner Trophy and, after being lifted by the champion’s captain, it returns to FIFA’s headquarters in Swiss. What enters then is an official imitation but, unlike previous World Cups -in which the change of trophy was carried out in a handful of seconds in a private unit of the stadium-, the exchange with the replica in Qatar was made in the same field of play, which could have contributed to the confusion.
At some point, in addition, the Zaro and Zuzulich trophy was added from the stands. It is not clear if the three World Cups coincided (and if they did, it was for a few seconds), but what is clear is that there were two for more than half an hour, one in each goal where the Argentine players celebrated, one the imitation of FIFA and the other the trout Argentina.
Di María, who at the beginning of the festivities was on the opposite goal to Messi, explained: “The security officers told me ‘please don’t give the Cup to anyone’, and I told them ‘but there is another Cup there’ , and they told me ‘no, no, the one you have is the real one, that’s why we’re with you’. That was what I later said to Messi (and hence the captain’s laughter)”. In turn, Pablo recounted that only a couple of hours after the festivities he found out that the genius had held in his hands the Cup that he had ordered to be made: “When we began to see the photos we realized that Leo had it had raised We saw details, especially from the lower part (the base), which confirmed that it was ours. Antonella (Leo’s wife) raised this glass, also one of Messi’s children.
Far from wanting to boast -in fact, it was all a confusion alien to their plans-, Pablo and Paula shared their story, which was celebrated at first. Other fans, on the other hand, attacked the couple, who closed their networks and never made a public appearance again. In their house they keep the most celebrated cup in history, even if it is apocryphal.
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