Wednesday 17 July 2019

Copa America chiefs hit back at Messi over 'corruption' allegations

Argentina’s Lionel Messi remonstrates with referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after he and Chile’s Gary Medel (out of frame) were sent off during his side’s 2-1 defeat in the Copa America third-place play-off. Photo: Getty
Argentina’s Lionel Messi remonstrates with referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after he and Chile’s Gary Medel (out of frame) were sent off during his side’s 2-1 defeat in the Copa America third-place play-off. Photo: Getty

Sam Dean

South American football chiefs have said it is "unacceptable" to question the integrity of the Copa America, after Lionel Messi claimed the tournament was "corrupt" and fixed in favour of Brazil.

The Argentina captain was given a bizarre red card in his country's third-place play-off win over Chile, after a clash with former Cardiff City midfielder Gary Medel.

It was only the second red card of Messi's career and the Barcelona forward later suggested it was the result of complaints he had made earlier about officiating.

Messi had said the refereeing was "crazy" and in favour of Brazil following Argentina's 2-0 defeat in last week's semi-final. "We do not need to be part of the corruption that we have suffered at this tournament," said Messi.

Impact "Medel is always right at the limit. With a yellow that would have been the end of it for both of us, but maybe what I said had an impact. Maybe this was ordered and I ended up suffering because of what I said. Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don't allow people to enjoy football."

Conmebol, the South American football confederation, hit back but did not refer to Messi by name. "In football sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and a fundamental pillar of fair play is to accept the results with respect.

"The same goes for refereeing decisions, which are human and will always be improvable. It is unacceptable that as a result of incidents typical in competitions, involving 12 teams, all on equal terms, unfounded accusations have been launched that question the integrity of the Copa America."

Telegraph.co.uk

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