The FIFA World Cup will see its inaugural game of 2014 played tomorrow in a match between hosting team Brazil and Croatia of Group A. Meanwhile in Group F, Lionel Messi cannot seem to shake the hype that surrounds his habit for throwing up during games. Argentina’s star player is known for a great many things in the footballing world. He is FC Barcelona’s top scorer of all-time, he was La Liga’s Player of the Year from 2009-2011, and has sights on becoming the highest goal scorer in UEFA Champions League history. Another not-so-glorious twinkle of infamy is Messi’s knack for getting sick on the pitch during games.
The most notable occurrence of Messi’s bout of sickness on the pitch happened back in 2011 during the Spanish Super Cup when he threw up just before scoring a goal for FC Barcelona. However, recent episodes have caused a flurry of speculation as to what the deal is with Messi’s stomach woes. After an incident during Argentina’s international friendly match against Romania in March, the then Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino said that all was not right. Though Martino noted that the vomiting does not affect Messi’s play, it is still cause for some concern.
Just last week, Messi was filmed dry heaving and taking a tablet on the Argentinian bench during their warm up match against Slovenia. Four minutes later, Messi assured viewers that there was nothing to worry about by scoring Argentina’s second goal of the match. Martino was right: the football legend does have a vomiting issue, but it did not seem to affect his ability to perform on the pitch. With the FIFA World Cup opening match just a day away, some fans continue to be anxious over Messi’s health.
Following the Slovenia incident, Argentina’s coach, Alejandro Sabella, tried to close the lid on the issue by claiming that Messi’s problem with nausea was just “nerves.” Sabella continued by pointing out that in the moment “there is anxiety more than anything.” Unfortunately for Sabella, Messi’s own remarks on the matter do not suggest the player is suffering from “nerves” by any means. In fact, the problem has been something Messi has had checked out numerous times. The result: doctors do not know what is responsible for the Argentinian’s bouts of nausea. As such, there is still speculation as to whether Messi’s performance in the FIFA World Cup will suffer as a result of his nausea.
According to Messi it all happens in a quick wave. First he feels the nausea come over him, sometimes to the point of vomiting. Then, as abruptly as it came about, the pain goes away. Messi told an Argentinian broadcaster during an interview that, though he does not know what the problem is, he has had “a thousand exams.” It is true that Barcelona’s staff of doctors as well as Argentina’s medical team have searched for a definitive cause, however both teams of doctors remain stumped. Messi also added that he experiences bouts of nausea off the pitch when relaxing at home, further debunking Sabella’s “nerves” diagnosis.
The mystery of Lionel Messi’s gut may continue to make headlines, however for the Argentinian footballer, it is nothing more than a nuisance at this point. Of more pressing concern is the team’s FIFA World Cup match against Bosnia and Herzegovina this Sunday, June 15. The game against Bosnia will be definitive for the teams, as both are favored to make it out of group play. In light of recent history, one thing Argentina fans can rest easy with is the knowledge that Messi’s vomiting still has not affected his game negatively. On the contrary, it has been known to precede goals on occasion.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson