Yamila Rodriguez, a forward for Argentina, claimed that she is not anti-Lionel Messi despite having a tattoo of Cristiano Ronaldo on her calf.
Fans have criticized Rodriguez, 25, on social media, saying that the artwork is disrespectful to Argentina star Messi.
Both Messi and Portugal’s Ronaldo are regarded as the best players of their generation and have been longtime rivals.
“At what point did I say that I’m anti-Messi?” Rodriguez said on Instagram.
“I’m not having a bad time because of you [fans] but for the atrocities that are said, without mercy.
“Can’t you have an idol or a player you like? Messi is our great captain in the national team but the fact that I say that my inspiration and my idol is CR7 [Ronaldo] does not mean that I hate Messi.”
Between them, Messi, 36, and Ronaldo, 38, have won 12 Ballons d’Or, the medal given to the world’s top player each year.
Between 2009 and 2018, the rivalry between the two players grew when Messi of Inter Miami was at Barcelona and Ronaldo of Al Nassr was at Real Madrid.
Rodriguez, who also sports a tattoo of Diego Maradona, the former captain of Argentina and World Cup champion, on her thigh, has urged supporters to be more accepting.
“What is the problem? We are not all obliged to only love the players of our country,” said Rodriguez.
“Please understand that this is football and everyone has appreciation. Their preferences and highlighting one does not mean burying the other.
“Enough. It tires me, it hurts me.”
In the opening match of Group G, Argentina’s 1-0 loss to Italy, Rodriguez entered the game as a substitute.
On Friday, they play South Africa.