Argentina football legend Lionel Messi may get banned from international football for two years for insulting the federation after the Barcelona star was sent off in the first half of the Copa America 2019 third-place match against Chile in Sao Paulo on July 6.
Argentina defeated Chile 2-1 but the referee sent off Messi and Chilean defensive-midfielder Gary Medel in a controversial decision. The Argentine legend has been fuming after the loss to Brazil in the semis and it escalated after he was sent off against Chile.
After the match, the 32-year-old striker criticised the referee and stated that he feels that the tournament was set up for hosts Brazil.
He said: "We don't have to be part of this corruption. The lack of respect that they have shown us throughout this tournament. Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don't allow people to enjoy football, they ruined it a bit."
"I think the cup is fixed for Brazil. I hope that the VAR and the referees have nothing to do in this final and that Peru can compete because they have the team to do so although I think it's difficult," he added.
In response to Messi's statement, CONMEBOL condemned the accusations and said in a statement: "It's unacceptable that because of incidents proper to the competitions, where 12 Nations competed in, all in equal condition, there have been unfounded accusations that misrepresent the truth and put to judgement the integrity of Copa America."
The statement further read: "Said accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the football players involved and the hundreds of professionals of CONMEBOL, institution that since 2016 has been tirelessly working to transparent, professionalize and develop South American football."
On the other hand, Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia said, "I can not speak because I can be sanctioned for two years".
Now, according to the CONMEBOL rules, insulting the federation and officials of the federation is strictly prohibited. As per Article 7 of the CONMEBOL rule book, Messi will get banned from international football for two years. This could probably mean the end of his international career as the Barcelona legend will turn 34 after two years. The way the federation reacted to the criticism seems like they might ban the Argentina star.
Brazil won the Copa America 2019 title beating Peru 3-1 in the final at the iconic Maracana stadium with goals from Gabriel Jesus, Everton Soares and Richarlison.