Rafael Nadal's popularity has been on full display during his ongoing South American exhibition tour. Fans around the continent have shown immense love and fanfare towards the Spaniard so far, but things perhaps went a step too far on Friday.
Nadal was walking off the court after defeating Alejandro Tabilo 7-6, 6-3 in an exhibition match in Chile, when scores of fans thronged the Mallorcan, going berserk with demands of selfies and autographs.
The 22-time Major champion was quickly surrounded by security personnel, although some fans believe he should have been given better security during the event.
Despite the enormous chaos, Nadal obliged some fans with autographs, even though he did look annoyed at one point, possibly due to getting mobbed by fans.
A couple of fans managed to get right in front of Nadal as he walked out, with one wanting a selfie and another asking for an autograph. The one who wanted a selfie with the Spaniard was immediately shoved aside by the latter's security detail.
Rafael Nadal will next head to Bogota on November 26, followed by a trip to Quito the following day. Two days later, he will travel to Belo Horizonte, followed by a visit to Mexico City on December 1, which will mark the end of his South American exhibition tour.
"Everyone must have the freedom to express the feelings they have, as long as they do not harm others" - Rafael Nadal on FIFA's ban on political displays at the ongoing World Cup in Qatar
Rafael Nadal was recently asked for his thoughts on FIFA's ban on political displays at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Fans are not allowed to carry placards with political messages and are even forbidden from wearing or carrying any accessories/clothing that supports homosexuality.
The World Cup hosts, who are known to be an extremely conservative Islamic Nation, have drawn widespread flak for their poor human rights record. Qatari law also forbids homosexuality, which has been a hot topic of discussion around the globe in recent weeks, given the problems it could cause to numerous LGBTQ fans attending the tournament.
Against this background, Nadal told Marca that he believes people should not be barred from expressing themselves, as long as they do so peacefully.
"We are in a global world in which people must have more and more rights," he said. "Everyone must have the freedom to express the feelings they have, as long as they do not harm others."
Nadal stressed that even though sport offers a global platform to "express oneself," the focus at the FIFA World Cup should be on football.
"Sport is a place to express oneself, because it has a global exposure at the media level, but, beyond all that, for me the important thing is to end up playing football," he added.