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Martinez breaks silence over Mbappe controversy

Emi Martinez finally breaks his silence on Mbappe after "taunting" Frenchman following Argentina's World Cup win

February 13, 2023 By Ali M.
The Albiceleste goalkeeper sparked huge controversy after appearing to mock the PSG star on two separate occasions after the unforgettable Qatar 2022 final.

The FIFA World Cup might have ended roughly two months ago, but only now has Emiliano Martinez, one of the heroes behind Argenitna's success, addressed the Kylian Mbappe controversy.

The Premier League goalkeeper was, alongside Lionel Messi, at the heart of La Albiceleste's triumph. Not only did the Aston Villa ace make a remarkable point-blank save in the final minutes of added time to save his country from defeat, but the 30-year-old then saved to spot kicks during the penalty shootout to help end his country's 36-year wait for this title.

However, Martinez found himself in tremendous controversy after being accused of taunting and mocking Kylian Mbappe following the final whistle. The first instance took place in the dressing room, with the former Arsenal ace asking for a minute of silence for the PSG star while celebrating the achievement with his teammates.

The second offense that sparked anger took place during the title parade in Argentina as Martinez was pictured holding a baby doll with Mbappe's face on it. However, in an interview with France Football, the goalkeeper pushed back on the claim that he was taunting Kylian.

Emiliano, nicknamed "Dibu", argues that the incident involving the doll was not intended to mock Kylian and that he only held onto it for a few minutes. The Premier League ace then added that it would be impossible to mock a world-class player who scored four times past him — three during the 120 minutes and an additional goal during the penalty shootout.

"I held it [baby doll] for like two minutes and I threw it away, that's all," Dibu told the magazine (as per L'Equipe).

"How can I make fun of Mbappe? He scored four past me. Four goals in a final! He must think I am his toy baby! I have huge respect for Mbappe."

As for the minute of silence incident, Martinez stated that it is a normal occurrence that should stay in the locker room and pointed to the Messi-Kante chants from the French players after Les Bleus beat Argentina in the 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16 as a perfect example.

"It's a locker room thing," he said. "It should never have come out. When France beat us in 2018, I remember there were chants about Messi [involving N'Golo Kante]. Same thing, if a team beats Brazil, they'll be singing about Neymar.

"There's nothing personal against Mbappe. I respect him a lot. If people sing about him or Neymar, it's because they are top players.

"After the final, I told him that it was a pleasure to play against him and that he almost won the match on his own. I had confirmation that he has immense talent. When Messi retires, I am sure Kylian will win many Ballon d'Or awards."

Regardless, it remains to be seen whether this explanation will quell the uproar following his antics. While Kylian Mbappe remained unfazed about the entire situation, France submitted an official complaint as they deemed Martinez's actions as disgraceful.

Nonetheless, both players went down in folklore with their respective fans following that historic showdown. Dibu was welcomed in Buenos Aires as a hero after his stellar campaign while Mbappe made history with his hat trick in the final, proving to everyone that he will dominate the game for the foreseeable future.

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