La Albiceleste earned the third-place finish at the continental competition following their win against Chile in the play-off.
Lionel Messi lashed out at the referees and corruption in Copa America after Argentina defeated Chile 2-1 in the third-place match. The Barcelona man was involved in a tussle with Gary Medel which saw them both sent off a few minutes away from half time.
Messi was furious with the referee’s call and refused to accept his third-place medal at the end of the match. He also made serious claims regarding corruption surrounding the tournament.
“Corruption and the referees are preventing people from enjoying the football and they’re ruining it a bit,” said the Argentina talisman.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was already furious with refereeing standard after their 2-0 semifinal loss against hosts, Brazil. He claimed that the hosts were given preference by the South American football governing body, CONMEBOL.
Argentina broke the deadlock in the game and it was a combination of Messi and Aguero with the latter scoring the goal. It was Paulo Dybala who doubled the lead for Albiceleste before the ruckus. Arturo Vidal‘s goal from the spot in the second half did give Chile an outside chance but in the end, it was bit too much for Reinaldo Rueda’s men.
According to Messi and his teammates they should have had penalty twice in the semifinal but the match official, Roddy Zambrano simply refused to consult VAR.
“Brazil were the hosts and they’re managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days, which makes it complicated. We leave with the feeling that they did not allow us to be in the final, that we were ready for better. Brazil’s match and today’s match were our two best performances, but then when you are sincere, you say things and these things happen”.
The Barcelona forward also feels that his words against the federation after the Brazil game saw him sent off in this game against Chile. Messi was well measured throughout the tussle with Medel and hence his sending off made him even more surprised.
“I think the dismissal was over what I said. My words had repercussions, but you must always be sincere,” he said after the victory over Chile.
“Before the match started he (the referee) said he liked to talk and hoped that we’d have a calm match, but at the first incident he sent me off,” said the Argentina captain.
He further went on to announce Brazil the winners of the Copa America even before the final was kicked off against Peru. Messi made a shocking statement stating the tournament holds Brazil on preferential grounds.
“I think there’s no doubt that Brazil are going to be champions. The Copa is weighted towards Brazil and hopefully VAR and the referees will have nothing to look at in the final and Peru can compete because they have the team to do so, although it looks tough to me,” he concluded.
This sending off will mean that Lionel Messi will miss out Argentina’s World Cup Qualifiers in next March. However, currently his words are making more noise than anything else.