SAO PAULO, July 7 : Argentina captain Lionel Messi on Saturday accused Copa America organizers of corruption, alleging that hosts Brazil have received preferential treatment from referees.
Messi made the comments after he was sent off for an altercation with Gary Medel during the first half of Argentina's 2-1 defeat of Chile in the third-place playoff here.
Medel was also dismissed for his role in the incident, in which he appeared to be the aggressor.
"There is no doubt, the whole thing is set up for Brazil," Messi said, alluding to Brazil's 2-0 victory over Argentina in the semifinal, after which the Argentine Football Association (AFA) submitted a formal complaint to South American football governing body CONMEBOL.
The AFA said it was seeking an explanation for referee Roddy Zambrano's decision not to consult the video assistant referee (VAR) for two Albiceleste penalty shouts during last Tuesday's match."I hope the VAR and referees don't play any part in the final and that Peru can compete but it looks tough to me," Messi continued.
"I didn't want to be part of this corruption, we shouldn't have to be part of this disrespect we suffered during the Copa America."We could have gone further but we weren't allowed into the final. Corruption, referees and all the rest stopped people from enjoying the football. I always tell the truth and I'm honest, that is what keeps me calm, if what I say has repercussions that is not my business.
"I think that what happened (the red card) is because of what I said (after the semifinal). What I said last time perhaps came back to haunt me. A yellow card would have been enough to put an end to it."
Messi set up Argentina's first goal at Corinthians Arena on Saturday, laying off an assist for Sergio Aguero. Paulo Dybala scored his first goal of the tournament shortly after before Arturo Vidal converted for Chile from the penalty spot.