Lionel Messi has accused the Copa America of being tipped in Brazil’s favour after he was shown the second red card of his professional career in Argentina’s third place play-off victory over Chile.
Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala gave Argentina a two-goal advantage inside 22 minutes at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo before Messi was given his marching orders at the end of a bad-tempered first half.
The iconic Barcelona forward clashed with Chile’s Gary Medel as the ball ran out of play and referee Mario Diaz de Vivar sent off both players for their part in the altercation.
It’s only the second time that Messi has been sent off in his professional career – the first was on his international debut back in 2005.
Arturo Vidal scored from the penalty spot on the hour mark for Chile to set up a tense finish, but Argentina managed to hold on to their narrow lead to secure third place.
Messi did not join the rest of his team-mates as they collected their medals on the podium after the final whistle and the attacker was furious as he spoke to reporters 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.’ Brazil take on Peru in the Copa America final on Sunday night and it’s clear which team Messi will be supporting at the Maracana.
He added: ‘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.