Messi dedicates Copa win to 45 million Argentines and Maradona



Lionel Messi has dedicated Argentina's Copa America triumph over Brazil to his family, his country and late idol Diego Maradona.

"I want to dedicate this success to my family, who have always given me the strength to continue, to my friends whom I love so much, to all the people who support us and above all to 45 million Argentinians who have suffered so with this dreadful virus," Barcelona megastar Messi wrote on Instagram.

The 34-year-old also paid tribute to the memory of Maradona, who died aged 60 last November.

"This is for all [Argentines], and of course also for Diego, who surely was supporting us from wherever he is."

The message, posted on social media, came less than a day after the Albiceleste beat Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America final at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium, ending Argentina's 28-year wait for a major trophy.

Messi said he hoped Argentina's Copa America triumph would help provide strength to his compatriots in their battle to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In order to continue celebrating we have to continue taking care of ourselves. Let's not forget that there is still a long way to go to return to normality and I hope we can take advantage of this happiness to gain a little strength to fight the virus together."

According to Argentine health ministry figures, the country has had more than four million positive cases of the virus, over 98,000 of which have been fatal.

Brazil's health ministry said on Monday there were 179 known COVID-19 cases related to the Copa America, up 13 from its previous update 17 days ago.

The ministry did not say how seriously the disease evolved in any of the infected.

The figure also did not contemplate possible contagion among a few thousand guests who watched the final between Argentina and Brazil at Rio's Maracana Stadium. The final was the only match in the tournament to have spectators in the stands.

"The very low contagion certifies that Copa America took place in Brazil with safety and didn't cause an increase in COVID-19 numbers," the health ministry said in a statement.