Lionel Messi Accused of Racism

Real Madrid player claims Messi called him a "negro".

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has become embroiled in controversy today after Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe, who is currently on loan to Everton, claimed that the striker had on multiple occasions referred to him as a "negro".

Speaking yesterday to Dutch magazine Helden, Drenthe claimed that Messi had previously refused to shake his hand following Barcelona's 2-0 victory against Alicante club Hercules, where Drenthe was playing on loan at the time.

He said: "We played against each other a lot, and we always had problems. You know what really bothers me? That tone with which he always called me 'negro, negro'.

"I understand that it is very common in South America, but we cannot stand it. Mahamadou Diarra, my team-mate at Real, would become furious when Gabriel Heinze and Gonzalo Higuain initially called him 'negro'. But they soon stopped.

"When I played against Barcelona with Hercules [last season], I had the same problems with Messi again. Before the match, he gave me a hand and said, 'Hola negro'. He didn't shake my hand again after the match. I don't think he'll invite me to his birthday party."

Messi has previously appeared in an anti-racism video which rallied viewers with the slogan "Put Racism Offside", viewable below:

Drenthe's accusations are reminiscent of those made by Manchester United's Patrice Evra regarding Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who was found guilty of branding Evra a "negro" but defended himself by claiming that using the term was "common" in his culture. The FA punished him with a paltry eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine.

Due to multiple disciplinaries already levelled at Evra during the season and the popular opinion that he was just "playing the race card" again (despite him having never actually played said "race card" before), many initially refused to believe his accusations and sided with Suarez. As Drenthe also has past disciplinary issues and has been involved in a much-publicised bust-up with Everton manager David Moyes this season, it is likely that he will receive the same amount of opposition to his claims that the United defender did.