Argentina emerged 2-1 winners in a fiercely contested third-place game versus Chile in the Copa America.
However, Lionel Messi and Chile midfielder Gary Medel were sent off in what was viewed as an astonishing decision by the referee.
Replays of the incident showed that Messi stood his ground as Medel barged into him after the former had clipped the latter…….but the referee decided to show both men the red card.
Lionel Messi refused to appear for his third-place medal and went ahead to launch a scathing attack on The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and the referees.
He said: “There is no doubt the whole thing is set up for Brazil. I hope the VAR and referees don’t play any part in the final and that Peru can compete but it looks tough to me.”
“I did not want to be part of this corruption, we shouldn’t have to be part of this disrespect we suffered during the Copa America. We could have gone further but we weren’t allowed into the final.”
“Corruption, referees and all the rest stopped people from enjoying the football. I always tell the truth and I’m honest, that is what keeps me calm, if what I say has repercussions that is not my business.”
“I think what happened is because of what I said (against Brazil). What I said last time perhaps, came back to haunt me. With a yellow card that was the end of it.”