River Plate has apologized to Lionel Messi and Barcelona after fans reportedly spit at the player in a Tokyo airport, the team announced on Tuesday.
Barcelona defeated the Argentine side, which won the most recent Copa Libertadores, 3–0 in the FIFA Club World Cup final on Sunday. Messi scored the opening goal.
Teammate Luis Suarez and manager Luis Enrique intervened to help calm tempers in the airport.
The team issued the following statement:
“In relation to the attacks on Lionel Messi at Narita airport, Club Atlético River Plate condemns all forms of violence and wishes to apologize to the player and Barcelona. River Plate congratulate Barcelona on winning the 2015 Club World Cup, held in Japan.”
Messi considered joining River Plate as a 12-year-old but opted to sign with Barcelona, as the team helped cover the cost of a $900-a-month hormone therapy that helped him grow.
Barcelona will host Real Betis on Dec. 30 in its next game.
- Christopher Chavez