As the only player to ever win the coveted Balon d’Or five times, Lionel Messi is likely the world’s best soccer player in the game today, and arguably the greatest of all time. [Editor's Note: I'm American and we're published in New York, so we're calling it soccer to avoid confusion. I know this will pain many of you, so, sorry.] While playing for Barcelona he has set the record for goals in La Liga (351), goals in a club season in Europe (73), and goals in a calendar year (91), and combined with his international career playing for Argentina he has scored over 500 goals. Yet, Dr. Ingo Frobose insists that his career numbers could be far better if it weren’t for one thing — Messi’s collection of tattoos.
Frobose, a doctor at the German Sports University in Cologne, has made the claim that tattoo ink poisons the blood (without presenting any sort of evidence) and thus harms elite soccer players from reaching their full potential. “I would forbid footballers from being tattooed,” Frobose told The Sun. “Clubs take every little aspect of their players’ health seriously, yet they don’t care about this behaviour at all. Various studies have shown that players suffer a three to five per cent drop in performance level after having a tattoo done.”
Now, if Frobose was arguing that it was a bad idea for players to get tattoos during the season, it would make some sense. Healing tattoos are open wounds and it might not be a lot of fun to hit a soccer ball with them, but to suggest that every single tattoo a player gets permanently hampers their ability to play is pure insanity. You know who has a lot of tattoos? English legend David Beckham. Manchester United striker and all around enjoyable human being Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Tim Howard, the greatest American born player in a generation in my humble opinion. Kyle Walker, the Manchester City defender who just set the record transfer fee for a player at his position. Lionel Fucking Messi. The list goes on and on and on.
Suggesting that elite athletes are being held back by getting tattooed is pure idiocy, whether we are talking about soccer or damn near any other sport. Lebron James seems to be doing pretty OK despite his tattoos. Prince Fielder’s sleeves never stopped him from mashing homers, and Odell Beckham catches footballs that no one else in the world can despite all of his ink. Spreading the idea that tattoos poison our blood and hold us back from athletic achievement is pure idiocy.
Going back to Messi, we think the only way to get Dr. Frobose to come back to reality would be to force him to watch every single game that Barcelona plays. Then he can see how wrong he is every time Messi (or Luis Suarez, or Paulinho, or Ivan Rakitić etc.) puts the ball in the net he’ll see just how wrong he is.