Argentinian forward Lionel Messi scored his 91st international goal and Argentina fell to a surprise defeat to Saudi Arabia, ending their long unbeaten run at the World Cup. The win also ended the hosts' record run of unbeaten World Cup matches, as they were unable to break Italy's record for the longest unbeaten run at a World Cup.

Lionel Messi scores 91st international goal from the spot

Argentine soccer legend Lionel Messi is set to join a select group of players to have played in all five World Cups. He has played in three qualifiers for Germany 2006 and is expected to be a part of Argentina's World Cup campaign in Doha.

Messi has won 41 major trophies during his career. He has scored a staggering 91 goals for Argentina, and is one of only three players to have reached double figures for goals scored for their country. He has also won the Copa America trophy and is considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time.

On Tuesday, Argentina opened its World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia. The South Americans rolled to a 5-0 victory in their final warmup match. This was Argentina's longest unbeaten run in 36 matches. The last time they lost was in the final of the Copa America.

During Argentina's warmup, Messi scored his 91st international goal. He also converted a penalty. He is the first Argentine to score at four different World Cup tournaments.

Argentines fail to equal Italy's record for longest-ever unbeaten run at a World Cup

Despite a strong run, Argentina have not managed to break Italy's record for the longest-ever unbeaten run at a World Cup. The Italians have won five matches against Argentina in the last two years, but the record is still unsurpassed.

The longest-ever unbeaten run by an international men's soccer team was by Brazil. The South Americans went 40 games without a defeat between the 1994 World Cup and the 2019 Copa America. However, their record was challenged in November when France beat them 2-1. It wasn't until March that Brazil won their only match since the World Cup, beating Czech Republic 3-1.

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Argentina are close to equaling Italy's record for the longest-ever unbeaten run at a World Cup. They arrived in Qatar on a 36-match unbeaten run. If they win or draw against Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they will be the first team to equal Italy's record.

Saudi Arabia's rulers accuse them of sportswashing

Investing in sports as a way to improve the country's image abroad has been a common strategy for governments throughout history. However, human rights groups have pointed to recent hosts of major international sporting events as examples of sportswashing.

Sportswashing is when a person, group, or state gets involved in sport in order to divert attention from crimes. In the past five years, a number of sporting events have been labelled sportswashing, including the recent Asian Cup, the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and the 2019 heavyweight boxing match in Saudi Arabia.

The term sportswashing came to light around the time of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Human rights groups and sports rights activists said that the event undermined FIFA's human rights policy. It was also a way for Saudi Arabia to hide its human rights record.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has a vision for the kingdom that is outlined in his "Vision2030." He wants to diversify the economy, promote tourism, and steer the country away from oil. His actions are a reflection of this vision.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's reform agenda

Despite the Crown Prince's reform agenda, Saudi Arabia's economy continues to suffer. Foreign direct investment has plunged to a 14-year low. Consumer spending has plummeted. The country has lost 1.1 million expatriate laborers in the past two years.

In response, the crown prince has pledged an audacious plan to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy. The plan is dubbed Vision 2030. This strategy is designed to create a vibrant private sector and wean the country off oil revenue. However, foreign funds are a crucial element of the plan.

Throughout his reforms, Mohammed bin Salman has made an effort to marginalize the reactionary clerical class. In the past, the clerical class had effectively been a co-manager of society. This class has been systematically repressed.

Saudi Arabia has been criticized for its lack of democratic institutions and its crackdown on dissenting voices. Human rights groups say there is an unprecedented fear of speaking out against the government. Several prominent activists have been arrested and charged with serious crimes.