Lionel Messi has been controversially sent off in Argentina’s 2-1 win over Chile in the Copa America third-place play-off in Sao Paulo.
For a match that didn’t mean much, there was a lot going on as Argentina defeated Chile 2-1 to finish third in the Copa America.
It ended with Lionel Messi sent off and boycotting the medal ceremony to protest the refereeing.
“We shouldn’t take part in this corruption,” the unusually outspoken superstar said.
“There was lack of respect toward us during this Copa America.
“We could have done better but they didn’t let us make it to the final. Corruption and the referees are not letting the fans enjoy football. This is ruining football.”
Messi had already complained about the refereeing after Argentina’s semi-final loss to Brazil, hinting the result was expected.
He said he also expected Brazil to win Sunday’s final against Peru, claiming it was already set up for the hosts’ victory.
When asked if he feared being suspended for his comments, Messi said “the truth needed to be told”.
He was sent off after getting involved in an altercation in a tense third-place game between the rivals from the last two finals of the South American competition.
Veteran Chile midfielder Gary Medel also was red carded after the first-half shoving match with Messi at the Arena Corinthians.
Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala scored early for Argentina and Arturo Vidal put Chile on the board with a second-half penalty kick.
It was a heated match from the start in Sao Paulo, with many hard fouls from both sides and altercations involving several players.
None was bigger than the one sparked by the Messi-Medel confrontation in the 37th minute.
It started when Medel wasn’t happy Messi came in from behind to try to gain possession.
The Chilean turned around to confront the Argentine star, who didn’t back down.
They started to bump into each other with their chests and shoulders and Paraguayan referee Mario Diaz de Vivar immediately sent both players off.
“A yellow card should have been enough for both players,” Messi said.
Argentina opened the scoring after Messi quickly took a free kick with a long through ball to Aguero, who went past goalkeeper Gabriel Arias before finding the net in the 12th minute.
Dybala added to the lead with a shot from inside the area in the 22nd and Vidal gave Chile hope of a recovery by converting a penalty awarded by video review in the 59th.