Opinion: Why Lionel Messi's Copa America rant was justified
Argentina managed to secure a win against Chile in their third-place play-off in the 2019 Copa America. Goals from Manchester City ace Sergio Aguero and Juventus star Paulo Dybala helped the Albiceleste bag a 2-1 win. Arturo Vidal was the lone scorer for Chile from a penalty following the red-card incident.
Messi, who provided an assist for the first goal, lasted just 36 minutes on the field before his incident with Gary Medel. Both of the players had a face-off after which they were sent off in a controversial manner by the referee. During the face-off, Medel was more aggressive with his head and shoulders while Messi held his ground. It goes without saying the controversial red card remains the major talking point of the game.
Messi was again furious with the referee’s decision and vented his frustration in the post-match conference. The 32-year-old believes the ongoing tournament is set up for Brazil and he wishes that the officials won't influence the final.
Speaking in the post-match conference, Messi said:
"The Copa is set up for Brazil, hopefully the referees and the VAR won't influence things and they let Peru compete, but I think that's unlikely."
The Argentine also refused to receive his medal and commented,
"We don't need to be part of the corruption that we've suffered at this tournament. We don't need to be part of the lack of respect we've suffered We could have gone further, but they didn't let us be in the final."
Despite being hailed one of the all-time greats, Messi is yet to enjoy success with his national team. The Argentine wizard has enjoyed a glittering career with Barcelona and he is also Argentina's all-time leading scorer. But the biggest stain on Messi's greatness is his unsuccessful pursuit for glory with the Albiceleste.
It is crystal clear that Messi has enjoyed another stellar individual campaign with his club in 2018/19. His statistics are unparalleled as he finished as the top scorer of the Champions League. He also won the European Golden Shoe and Pichichi award owing to his exploits. It is true that the Argentine captain was not able to replicate his form in the Copa America but was his anger completely justified?
There is no running around the fact that there have been quite a few refereeing errors from the officials in the ongoing tournament. For instance, Brazil had three goals ruled out in their clash against Venezuela and two of them were close calls.
For Argentina, they were thoroughly dominated by Brazil in the semi-finals but there were calls for penalties which were completely ignored by the referee.
Messi's red card marks the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's first sending off since his debut with the national team against Hungary in 2005. Both Messi and the Argentina Football Association are clearly unhappy with the officiating throughout the tournament and they expressed their frustration following their semi-final clash against Brazil.
The Selecao emerged as winners from their latest clash against their arch-rivals and they will face Peru in the final.
Both in the semi-final and the third place play-off, Argentina were frustrated as the referee chose not to opt for VAR during close calls on multiple occasions. Maybe Messi went too far when he dragged Brazil's name in his post-match conference but the Argentine wizard is not wrong about the standard of refereeing in the current tournament.
Despite his success, being Leo Messi could be a curse at times. After another frustrating tournament with his national team, the chances of him winning a major trophy steadily decreases.
Copa America will be back in 2020 and it remains to be seen whether Messi and co. can channel their anger in a positive way to finally win the trophy.