Argentinian captain Lionel Messi has been banned for a match and fined $1,500 after being shown red card for bumping chest with Chile’s Gary Medel in the Copa America third-place playoff. The star footballer is reported to have been banned for accusing South American football chiefs of ‘corruption’.
Accusing the football body of corruption, Messi said, “Corruption and the referees are preventing people from enjoying the football and they're ruining it a bit.” Messi had alleged that the tournament was ‘fixed’ in the favour of hosts Brazil. Argentina was eliminated by Brazil in a ‘controversial’ match with a score line of 2-0 in latter’s favour. Messi who had already been angered by the refereeing during Argentina's 2-0 semi-final loss against Brazil, claimed that the hosts were getting preferential treatment. Taking a direct jibe at Brazil, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi said, “Brazil were the hosts and they're managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days, which makes it complicated.”
Messi did not even attend the post-match ceremony to collect medal. The ban on Messi is expected to serve in Argentina’s first qualifier match for the 2022 World Cup.
However, the Barcelona star is reported to have apologised for his statement but the South American football body CONMEBOL upheld the ban and went on to add the fine.
Along with this, CONMEBOL removed Argentina’s football association head Claudio Tapia from crucial FIFA council. Tapia also criticised the football body during Copa America and even after that.