A French women’s handball player has expressed outrage after her country’s gold medal-winning team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was snubbed on the cover of a national newspaper in favor of new PSG star Lionel Messi.
The Ligue 1 giants have been the talk of the world since Barcelona stunningly announced that club idol Messi would be leaving them on Friday, opening the door for the mega-wealthy Champions League contenders to open negotiations with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s father and agent, Jorge, which were concluded over the weekend before an official announcement on Tuesday.
As PSG neared getting the historic deal over the line on Monday, L’Equipe’s editors opted to give the 34-year-old the front cover, sidelining the France women’s handball team, who beat their Russian rivals 30-25 on Sunday.
Retweeting the publication’s post on the matter, France star Cleopatra Darleux expressed her anger, claimed that her team had been repeatedly overlooked and voiced her frustration that they had not been afforded prominence over one of the most seismic transfers of all time.
“History repeats itself… we don’t deserve the front page, L’Equipe?” she asked the publication, provoking a mixed reaction.
Hugely popular French broadcaster Cyril Hanouna told Darleux and his following of almost six million: “I am a fan of L’Equipe and I still defend them but here I have to agree with Cleo – you deserved one there.
“But you made us dream. Well done – we had a great time thanks to you. It’s huge what you have accomplished. Absolute respect.”
Darleux, who is France’s goalkeeper and also helped them roar to the world championships in 2017, replied to Hanuna: “Thank you. We have stars in our eyes.”
“A shame… you deserve so much better,” came a similarly supportive comment from one of Darleux’s devotees.
“But hey, not enough money and bling [in handball]. Congratulations on your achievement.”
“It’s shameful – you do all that to make way for Messi, whom France doesn’t care about. In any case, bravo to you and the girls. You were magnificent,” said another ardent supporter.
A fan of PSG’s fiercest rivals, Marseille, told the 32-year-old: “You are too beautiful to be on the front page of this cloth that is L’Equipe.
“The team does not deserve you – great respect for your journey and your victory. It gave us a lot of joy and sunshine. You have won the hearts of the French.”
Others, though, preferred to hand Darleux what many believe is a deserved reality check.
“Your victory is exceptional but you have to understand that the arrival of Messi is a global event which concerns many more people and which will therefore make more sales,” pointed out one.
“It does not take anything away from your magnificent gold medal. You made us dream.”
Darleux was asked how many times she had won the Ballon d’Or, and one observer asked: “The best French club in the most popular sport in the world receives the best player in the world and you think it’s less important than women’s handball?”
“How many fans do you have across the world?” enquired another somewhat cruel critic, although their point is arguably justified by Messi’s remarkable popularity.
One of the most followed figures in the world on social media, Messi has more than 246 million admirers on social media. The French Handball Federation has a little more than 38,000, with popular Darleux amassing more than 77,000.
Messi acolytes called the Argentina icon “king” and told Darleux to “shut up and let us enjoy the best player on the planet”, with a respondent riposting: “Well done to you but sorry, Messi is much bigger than your sport.”
Perhaps most perceptively, one onlooker warned: “You’re going to have all the football and Messi fans and teens on your back who swear by the one sport they know.
“Two gold medals in a team sport in one weekend is obviously not as interesting as a transfer not yet signed. Support for you.”
Also on rt.com
It’s official: Paris Saint-Germain announce ‘diamond’ Messi as superstar waves to fans at airport after arriving in France (VIDEO)