Robert Lewandowski has corrected a journalist during a press conference, who said the Polish star had criticized Lionel Messi’s statements regarding the Ballon d’Or award.
Lucas Beltramo of Argentine outlet TyC sports asked the FC Barcelona star if the players would shake hands before Argentina plays Poland in the FIFA World Cup Group Stage.
Lewandowski never said anything negative about Messi. People have tried to twist his words. Here someone asks him about what he supposedly said and Lewy corrects him.— Luis Mazariegos (@luism8989) November 19, 2022
“Why not?” the striker asked rhetorically.
“Why wouldn’t we [shake hands]? When, between me and Messi everything is fine? I have nothing [against] him, never had. Why?”
The journalist answered that he was asking because of Lewandowski's statements about Messi regarding the Ballon d’Or. Not helping matters was that both men were speaking in English and not their native tongue.
“What did I say?” an exasperated Lewandowski replied.
“Messi [said] that I should win the Ballon d’Or, but then he didn’t vote for me,” the reporter said, attempting to quote the striker.
“When [did] I say it like that?” Lewandowski replied.
“When and where? No, I don’t know that I said it like that. Maybe you saw it on Instagram or something like that, maybe someone [said] it like that, but not me,” he finished.
This all traces back to Messi’s comments at the 2021 Ballon d’Or gala. The Argentine came in first place, with the Pole coming in a close second.
During his acceptance speech, Messi told the organizers of the award that Lewandowski should have the 2020 Ballon d’Or. The Polish striker was considered a lock to win the award, but France Football canceled it due to COVID issues.
“I would like to mention Robert Lewandowski, it’s been a real honor to compete with you. Everyone knows and we agree that you were the winner last year. I think France Football should award you your 2020 Ballon d’Or – you deserve it and you should have it at home,” said Messi.
During an interview, Lewandowski was asked if Messi was sincere or whether it was a PR move. His response would be misinterpreted later. He said: “I would like it to be a sincere declaration of a great footballer, but it’s only a declaration. But I would hope that maybe, that it does not stay like that, as empty words.”
Lewandowski would later have to clarify that he meant he wanted the words to spur France Football, not that he did not believe Messi had an unfulfilled responsibility or lacked sincerity.
”My statement, which I made in an interview with a Polish TV broadcaster, is currently being misinterpreted. I never wanted to say that Lionel Messi’s words were not serious or sincere,” he said.
Later on, in a different interview, Lewandowski went further.
“Messi’s words towards me [about the Ballon d’Or] really touched me. They weren’t empty words, it was a nice moment in my career.
“I only spoke a few words with Leo [face to face], because my Spanish is not that good. I spoke with Kylian [Mbappe] in English, he then translated for Leo. It was a great night.”
Still, various media outlets pushed the narrative that there was some sort of conflict between the two stars.
Lewandowski did win the FIFA The Best Award in 2020, though curiously Messi did not vote for him for that award. Again, Polish media asked the striker about the situation, and again, his comments were misinterpreted later.
“Messi voted for me in the Ballon d’Or and then why his point of view changed, I don’t know. However, I have no regrets, no complaints, I accepted it, that’s the decision he made and that’s it. It was even easier for me because I won the award anyway.”
Lewandowski said he had no complaints, but that’s not how many media outlets chose to report it afterward. Many framed his “I don’t know” comment as indignant, saying once again that he had some beef with the Argentine #10.
What we saw during the press conference, is the media believing its own spin, and confusing it for the truth.