Argentina forward and five-time Ballon d Or winner Lionel Messi has blasted referees insisting “they don’t allow people to enjoy football.
Although the Barcelona talisman is not making a blanket condemnation of all whistle men his outburst came during the recently concluded Copa America which Brazil won after beating Peru 3-1.
Fourteen-time champions Argentina failed in their bid to claim the 15th title but claimed the third place beating Chile 2-1 in a tensed encounter.
Messi received a red card and automatic ejection during Argentina’s third-place win against Chile July 6 in Brazil. He received the card after bumping chests with Chile’s Gary Medel.
The two time UEFA men’s player of the year winner believed the referee was partial handing him a red when a yellow for both of them would have sealed the issue describing the act as part of the corruption in the game.
“We do not need to be part of the corruption that we have suffered at this tournament,” Messi told reporters after the Chile game. “Medel is always right at the limit. With a yellow, that would have been the end of it for both of us, but well, maybe what I said recently had an impact.
“What is important is that the team finished well in the tournament. Maybe this was ordered and I ended up suffering because of what I said.
“Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don’t allow people to enjoy football.”
CONMEBOL, the South American Football Confederation while imposing a fine of $1,500 on Messi and suspending him from Argentina’s first match of the 2022 World cup qualifier, insisted nobody is being hunted, adding
“In football sometimes you win and sometimes lose and a fundamental pillar of fair play is to accept the results with loyalty and respect,” CONMEBOL said. “The same goes for refereeing decisions, which are human and will always be improvable.
“It is unacceptable that as a result of incidents typical in competitions, involving 12 teams, all on equal terms, unfounded accusations have been launched that lack the truth and question the integrity of the Copa America.
“These accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the participating players and the hundreds of professionals of Conmebol, an institution that since 2016 has been working tirelessly to make transparent, professionalize and develop South American football.”