Saudi sports presenter under fire for likening Messi to drugs


Published: 2018-10-14 21:51

Last Updated: 2022-07-04 16:54

Argentine professional footballer Lionel Messi. (
Argentine professional footballer Lionel Messi. (

Saudi sports presenter Waleed al-Farraj stirred up a social media storm after likening football Legend Lionel Messi to drugs.

“Messi is like drugs,” Farraj told an Argentinian journalist, who was accompanying the Argentina team in Saudi Arabia.

Farraj’s comments were caught on video, which went viral on Twitter on Saturday, 13 October, 2018.

While infuriated social media users accused the popular presenter of “promoting and enjoying drugs,” Farraj argued that his words were taken out of context, “especially that in the spur of the moment, I couldn’t remember the word “addiction,” which is how I wanted to describe Messi’s fans’ feelings towards him.”

In a video posted on his official Twitter account on Saturday, more than 1.1 million people watched Farraj explain himself with the following statement:

“Good evening. Firstly, may God keep drugs away from us and our children, and a big thank you to everyone at the General Directorate of Narcotics Control (GDNC) for fighting this disease every day.

This is what happened: an Argentinian journalist asked me during a match between Argentina and Iraq who my favourite football player was. I told him that it was Messi and he asked me why. I wanted to tell him that loving this player is an addiction, and while trying to find the right word for it in English, I used the word drugs instead, because that’s the closest word to addiction that I could find.

I could have used another word such as sweets or fizzy drinks. Maybe I used the wrong expression, but it’s not the end of the world. When you rewatch the video, it will become obvious that it’s of someone who has made a genuine linguistic mistake. If I’ve upset anyone, then my apologies to them and to the GDNC.”

The GDNC said that they will be investigating the video and interrogating Farraj.