What's the story?
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca has responded to Lionel Messi's criticisms of CONMEBOL, stating that the Argentine captain must have evidence before accusing the South American Football Confederation of corruption.
In case you didn't know...
Peru were defeated 3-1 by hosts Brazil in the final of the 2019 Copa America. Goals from Everton Soares, Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison helped the Selecao edge past a spirited Peru side. Brazil striker Jesus received his marching orders in the second half of the match when he was booked for the second time.
On the other hand, Argentina managed to finish third in the Copa America as they defeated Chile in the third-place playoff. Earlier, they suffered a 2-0 defeat against Brazil in the semi-finals.
Argentine captain Lionel Messi was not able to replicate his superb form with his national team as he scored just one goal throughout the tournament. Messi's campaign ended on a bitter note when he was sent off following a clash with Gary Medel during the Albiceleste's encounter against Chile.
The heart of the matter
The 32-year-old boldly accused the CONMEBOL, claiming that the 2019 edition of the Copa America had been set up for Brazil to win. Peru's coach was unable to accept Messi's rant despite his respect for the player.
Speaking in an interview, Gareca said:
"Messi is an authoritative voice, that does not mean I agree with him. I respect him a lot - not just the player but the person. He seems to be very focused. But apart from the opinion we have of Messi, we can agree or disagree with him."
"I like that we would know what we have to improve in South America, but that does not necessarily mean that there is corruption or that we are corrupt."
"If you speak of corruption, you must have convincing evidence. Football is a game and an individual can go wrong."
Following the 'corruption' accusations made by Messi, CONMEBOL may ban the five-time Ballon d'Or winner for two years.