What a shocker! Portugal was eliminated from the World Cup on Saturday after losing 1-0 to an impressive Morocco team and Portugal internationals Pepe and Bruno Fernandes blamed the defeat on... Lionel Messi!?
You can make as many excuses as you want when you lose a game. You must find someone to blame, even if that's not quite correct. At the end of the day, it's human nature.
Being a Portugal international, playing in a squad that features (even if only coming off the bench) Cristiano Ronaldo, and getting out of the World Cup at the hands of minnow Morocco, well... I guess that was enough for Pepe and Fernandes to feel a bit entitled to make some damning (yet nonsensical) statements.
Pepe lost no time to drop the hammer and blame the Argentine referee, who spent the game correctly trying to keep things under control between Portuguese and Moroccan players.
"We conceded a goal we did not expect, but I have to say this; it is strong, but I have to say it — it is unacceptable that an Argentine referee whistled this game," started Pepe before committing the ultimate of sins.
Pepe and Bruno Fernandes were so shocked after losing to Morocco that they ended up blaming Lionel Messi and Argentina for it
"After what happened yesterday with Messi," he said.
Yes, you read all of the above rightly. Pepe acknowledge Portugal conceded a goal yet he found the courage to name-drop Messi blaming him for Portugal's failure at qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals... against Morocco of all nations. Sheesh.
"With everything that is being said in Argentina, and the referee comes here to take this game. I’m not saying he was conditioned... but..."
At some point, someone has to act and ban this man.
"They just said eight minutes added on. We are working seriously and this referee... eight minutes?" Pepe must definitely be in favor of clock-stop football getting introduced at some point in the future, or maybe three 45-minute periods instead of just two, so Portugal have more chances at breaking Morocco's stiff defense in the event they cross paths again at some point.
Pepe wasn't alone in sounding a bit childiss after Portugal's defeat, though. Enter Bruno Fernandes.
"I don’t know if they are going to give the trophy to Argentina already."
According to The Athletic, when Fernandes made that statement "the team's press officer touched Fernandes's arm" but the player decided to keep on going with his rant: "I don’t care, I’m going to say what I think and f— it."
"It is really strange to be refereed by a professional from a country which is still in the competition. It has clearly tilted the field against us."
To each his own. Fernandes and Pepe offered their opinions about the referee. The World Cup, by way of an impressive crop of Moroccan players that actually defeated them 1-0 on the football field and made history while at it, offered them a one-way ticket back to their Iberian homes.
Messi and Argentina face Croatia in the semi-finals of the World Cup next week. Pepe, Bruno Fernandes, and Portugal will comfortably read newspapers discussing where Cristiano Ronaldo will play next from their couches.