Former Uruguayan defender Diego Lugano recently questioned the legitimacy behind Lionel Messi-led Argentina winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The Paris Saint-Germain forward took home the Golden Ball by scoring seven goals and providing three assists.
Argentina, meanwhile,, were awarded five penalties during the tournament, four of which Messi converted. Lugano believes that the South American giants were helped by FIFA due to their captain's global popularity.
Speaking to Futnbl por Carve TiaDiaria, Lugano said:
"That they gave him help is that there is no doubt. Argentina had its merit, but of the 5 penalties, 4 I think no one has any doubt that they were not. They were totally forced, that is the reality. But that is to the credit of Messi, who moves a lot worldwide."
"You see (Mike) Tyson in the Messi shirt, you see Tiger Woods, you see Roger Federer. Do you think that FIFA doesn't see that and it doesn't work for them? Merit of Messi and later also merit of Argentina, who knew how to take advantage of that."
Lionel Messi and Co. defeated France in the final at the Lusail Iconic Stadium via penalties to lift the award after 36 years. Messi scored twice in regulation time in a game that ended 3-3 after extra time, once from the penalty spot.
Lionel Messi provided two magical assists during the 2022 FIFA World Cup
There are claims that Lionel Messi and co. were helped during the FIFA World Cup. However, there is no denying that the Paris Saint-Germain attacker was at the peak of his powers during the tournament.
Apart from scoring seven goals, he provided three assists, two of which were brilliant. Messi came up with a mesmerizing nutmeg pass against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals to set up Naheul Molina. La Albiceleste won the game on penalties after it ended 2-2 after extra times.
Lionel Messi's assists against Croatia in the semi-final was a joy to watch as well. The little magician turned back the clock to leave centre-back Josko Gvardiol on his tracks before providing for Julian Alvarez. Given Gvardiol was one of the outstanding performers of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Messi's assist was even more impressive.