Following accusations that Lionel Messi “kicked” a Mexican jersey in a locker room, the Argentine player is finally speaking out. In fact, the 35-year-old sports icon explained in a press conference that the situation is a total “misunderstanding.”

As shown on TikTok, Argentina’s team celebrated their big World Cup win against Mexico by cheering in the locker room. However, fans pointed out a Mexican jersey on the floor, which Messi kicks while taking off his shoes.

Fans were divided after watching the locker room video

Many social media users defended the star, with one TikTok user commenting, “No m*mes, he’s clearly about to take off his cleats😭.” Another agreed, “He’s just tryna take off his shoes 💀.” 

Still, others were offended by the act, especially by the fact the jersey was on the floor. One person explained, “I’m a Messi fan!! Taking his shoes off or not, it still shouldn’t be on the floor like that!” The biggest critic, though? Mexican boxer Canelo Álvarez.

The boxer asked his Twitter followers, “Did you see Messi cleaning the floor with our jersey and flag?” He even wrote Messi “should pray to God [he doesn’t] find him.”

In another tweet, Canelo explained it’s all in the name of his country. “He who doesn’t defend his country is a coward… Viva Mexico cabr*nes.”

Canelo eventually apologized

Since then, Canelo has changed his tune, tweeting that his comments were “out of place.” 

Canelo explained he “got swept up in the love” he feels for his country, apologizing to Messi and the Argentine people. He said, “We learn something new every day, and this time, it was my turn.” 

Messi speaks out

Fast-forward to now, and Messi is defending himself against the accusations. He told reporters, “It was a misunderstanding, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t disrespect anyone.”

The Argentine legend continued, “Leaving shirts on the floor is part of what happens after games in locker rooms, it’s nothing more.” 

Defending his actions, he said he “doesn’t have to apologize” because he “didn’t disrespect the people of Mexico or the jersey or anyone.”

Messi’s fans are surely letting out a sigh of relief, as many have justified the player’s misstep for days. As one Twitter user described, “[Messi would] never disrespect any country’s flag or jersey. It was unintentional.”

Even Mexican soccer player Guardado recently spoke out, telling TyC Sports “the controversy isn’t very important.”

Guardado explained, “I’ve had the privilege to cross paths with [Messi] for many years in Spain, and I know the kind of person Leo is.” He said the jersey was actually his, continuing, “Leo is very thoughtful with me and my peers.”