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‘Corruption’: Messi rages at Copa America officials after being sent off for just second time

  • Lionel Messi accused Copa America officials of “corruption”
    "We were ahead, but, as I said recently, unfortunately there is a lot of corruption, the referees," he added, according to ESPN.  Lionel Messi accused Copa America officials of “corruption”
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Lionel Messi claimed Argentina were treated unfairly at the Copa America and did not collect his bronze medal after being controversially sent off in the 2-1 third-place play-off win over Chile.

Lionel Messi accused Copa America officials of “corruption” after the Argentina star was sent off for just the second time in his career during the Copa America third-place play-off against Chile.

Messi snubbed the medal ceremony after the game – which Argentina won 2-1 – following his red card for a clash with Chile skipper Gary Medel in the 37th minute.

The pair were both given their marching orders by Paraguayan referee referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after first barging chests, while Medel appeared to lower his head towards the Argentina captain.

Messi raged afterwards at the decision to send him and Medel off, saying: “I think the referee overreacted. With a yellow card for both of us, everything would be over.

"I feel lot of anger because I think I did not deserve that red card because I think we were playing a very good game.

"We were ahead, but, as I said recently, unfortunately there is a lot of corruption, the referees," he added, according to ESPN. 

Messi has previously branded lashed out at organizers and match officials of a tournament in Brazil that he has been critical of throughout, calling them “bullsh*t.”

When asked whether he felt that criticism played a role in his sending off, he said: "Yes, unfortunately, yes. You cannot be honest, and you cannot say how things should be done."

The South American football authority CONMEBOL later issued a statement rejecting Messi’s accusations.