Argentine legend Lionel Messi has been slapped with a heavy fine of USD 1500 by South America’s football governing body – CONMEBOL, over his comments about the federation’s corruption during the recently concluded COPA America. Messi will also be serving a one-game suspension for the red card he received against Chile in the tournament’s third-fourth place playoff. Also Read - Manchester City Preparing £15m Bid to Sign Lionel Messi During January Transfer Window: Report
Messi was given his first red-card in a 14-year-long span and this decision had not gone well with the striker as he blasted CONMEBOL, saying the whole tournament was set up for Brazil’s win. Also Read - UEFA Champions League Draw: It's Messi vs Ronaldo Once Again as Barcelona Gets Drawn With Juventus in Group G
“There is no doubt, the whole thing is set up for Brazil. I hope the VAR (video assistant referee) and referees don’t play any part in the final and that Peru can compete but it looks tough to me,” Messi had said. Also Read - Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? Most Admired Sportsman in The World Revealed
“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,” he had said.
Chile’s Gary Medal and Messi were handed red cards in the 37th minute of the match. The video footage showed that Medal was clearly the aggressor and the decision of the referee was challenged by Messi. The Argentine striker, thereafter, had walked off the field.
During the medal receiving ceremony, Messi had not shown up on the field. Earlier in the tournament, Messi had also criticised the ground conditions for the competition and also questioned refereeing decisions.
Messi had been critical of the referees after the team’s 2-0 loss against Brazil in the semi-final.
“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 that what happened is because of what I said against Brazil,” Messi had said.
Brazil had won the Copa America 2019 as they defeated Peru 3-1 in the finals on July 7.
(With Agency Inputs)