Barcelona ace explains why he sang the national anthem ahead of Argentina-Venezuela clash

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has made the headlines for simply singing his country’s national anthem ahead of their quarter-final clash against Venezuela in the Copa America on Friday.

The Barcelona maestro, who is hardly seen singing the anthem on international duty, has responded to questions asking him why he decided to sing it before the quarter-finals.

Messi has encountered a fair share of criticism for his refusal to sing the Argentina national anthem during international games. In 2015, the 32-year-old revealed that once the media made a ruckus out of it, he stopped singing it on purpose.

Meanwhile, Tomas Chavez, a young mascot who accompanied the Argentine on the pitch during the Albiceleste’s win over Qatar, recently revealed that while the forward does not sing the national anthem, he hums it.

He said,

“It was incredible when Messi came in, and it was something that I will never be able to experience again. He caressed me and his hand was bigger than my head, that’s why he laughed. I hugged him and told him a lot of things: that I loved him, that he is my idol, that I always wanted to meet him and never had the opportunity [to do so].””[During the anthem] he has his mouth shut and hums the anthem. It’s true that he does not sing the hymn, but he hums it. I heard it.”

Argentina progressed to the semi-finals of the Copa America after defeating Venezuela 2-0 last night. Goals from Lautaro Martínez and Giovani Lo Celso helped secure the crucial win for the side, who has been underwhelming and unconvincing throughout the tournament.

After the game, Messi was seen speaking to reporters about the victory, when he was asked why he decided to sing the national anthem on this particular game.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner cheekily responded (via Fox Sports Asia), “Today I wanted to sing the anthem, and well, I sang it!

Argentina will go head-to-head with tournament hosts Brazil in the semi-finals of the Copa America on July 3.