– The expulsion was only the second time that Messi was seeing red in his professional career
– Messi refused joining Albiceleste teammates to collect their medals on the podium after the game
Lionel Messi has blamed corrupt practices at the ongoing Copa America 2019 after receiving his second red card as a professional footballer during Argentina’s losers’ final victory over Chile.
According to Metro, Messi insists the biennial tournament in South America was being tipped in favour of the hosts’ nation Brazil, who claimed a 2-0 win over Argentina in their semifinal clash.
During the third-place cracker, Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala handed Argentina a two-goal lead in 22 minutes at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, with Messi sent off before the end of an ill-tempered first half.
Messi clashed with Chile’s Gary Medel as the ball rolled out of play and referee Mario Diaz de Vivar sent off both players for their role in the row that ensured.
Arturo Vidal reduced the deficit from a spot-kick on the hour mark for Chile to set up a tense finish, but Argentina held on their 2-1 lead to claim bronze.
Messi refused joining his teammates to collect their medals on the podium after the final whistle and was bitterly angry speaking with journalists in the mixed zone.
“I didn’t go to the podium because we shouldn’t be part of the corruption and lack of respect,” he said.
“We were meant for more but they didn’t let us be in the final. The corruption and the refs didn’t allow the people to enjoy and football is ruined.
“The corruption and the referees didn’t allow us to be in the final. You have to say the truth,” he stressed.
Brazil battle Peru in the Copa America final on Sunday night, July 7, at the Maracana and Messi believes the Selecao will be crowned South America champions after the contest.
“Brazil champions? No doubt. Sadly, I think it’s set up for Brazil.
“Hopefully the refs and VAR will have nothing to do with it and Peru will be able to compete because they have the team to do it.
“But I see it as difficult,” noted Messi, even as he was quick to accuse the officials of bias during Argentina’s semi-final loss to Brazil.
“They were not better than us. They found the net early and the second goal came from a penalty they didn’t award,” Messi said.
“The officiating was crazy. There were clear penalties, on [Nicolas] Otamendi, on [Sergio] Aguero.
“He [the referee] was on their side. In every divided ball or dispute, he inclined the pitch their way.
“It’s not an excuse, but the truth is that, in this Copa, they kept on blowing for stupid things, for handballs, penalties.
“But today, they didn’t even go to VAR when there were clear plays that should have been looked at,” Messi summed up.
Earlier, Tracknews.ng reported that Argentina vs Chile ended in a 2-1 scoreline in favour of Lionel Sacloni’s side as they finished third in Copa America 2019.
The Albiceleste got their noses in front as the Chileans were caught off guard from a set piece quickly taken by Lionel Messi to Sergio Aguero.
The Manchester City striker beat the goalkeeper and slotted home the first goal in the 12th minute to make it 1-0.