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By ESPN Staff
Oct 31, 2006

Messi: Down to referees to stop divers

Lionel Messi claims the onus is on referees to rid football of the divers.

The Barcelona forward admits players will try every trick they know in the pursuit of victory but trusts the officials to make the right call.

Messi said: 'You do what you have to do to win the game. It's up to the referee what happens in that moment.

'We must trust referees. Sometimes they can make mistakes. That's fair enough but let's just trust him in his decisions.'

Messi, fit after an ankle injury, poked fun at Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho when he appeared on the front page of a Barcelona newspaper posing as Hamlet yesterday.

Mourinho accused Messi of play-acting last season when the sides clashed at Stamford Bridge and he appeared in Mundo Deportivo holding a skull.

He insisted it was not meant to be disrespectful but the photographs prove Mourinho's comments have stuck in the minds of the Barcelona public.

Messi said: 'The picture was done with a lot of respect and I was not thinking about anyone other than Barcelona when I did it.'

Diving and play-acting were firmly on the agenda in Barcelona this week after Eidur Gudjohnsen's dramatic tumble to win a crucial penalty in a league game against Recreativo Huelva at the weekend.

Gudjohnsen was not touched but crashed to the turf to win a spot-kick which was scored by Ronaldinho, to put Barca one-up on the way to a 3-0 win.

Mourinho accused the former Chelsea favourite of learning to dive in Spain but Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard hit back, insisting Barcelona did not have to cheat to win.

Rijkaard said: 'We don't need to do that. It is a poor man's mind to talk like that.

'It's almost always losers who complain about the results and it's something we have to cope with.'

It was Rijkaard's only slip as he tried not to be drawn into another war of words with Mourinho.

The Dutchman said: 'I don't care what is said. We are working honestly and it doesn't affect me. Everybody has the right to say what he wants.'

Asked why Mourinho appears obsessed with Barcelona, Rijkaard replied: 'Jose Mourinho can explain it better than I can.'

Mourinho targeted Messi after Chelsea's Asier del Horno was sent off in the first leg of last season's second-round game in the Champions League.

Messi rolled over several times to exaggerate the foul by Del Horno, who was shown a straight red by the referee.

Barcelona won the game and went through on aggregate after drawing the second leg in the Nou Camp 1-1.

Messi said: 'We try not to listen to these kinds of things. We are only aware of the importance of this game. We want to win because we need to win.'