According to UK Mirror, Barcelona and Argentina captain, Lionel Messi, risks facing a two-year ban from international football following his statement after the victory over Chile in the Copa America third-place playoff.
The Argentina international lost to Brazil in the semi-final, and the hosts defeated Peru in final on Sunday.
Messi was sent off in the third-place playoff following a tussle with Chile’s Gary Medel, in which the former Cardiff midfielder appeared to be the aggressor.
Messi afterwards said, “There is no doubt, the whole thing is set up for Brazil. 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.”
“I did not 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 are not my business.”
“I think that what happened is because of what I said [against Brazil].”
“What I said last time perhaps came back to haunt me. With a yellow card that was the end of it.”
CONMEBOL regulations prohibit “insulting in any means or manner CONMEBOL, its institutions or personnel”, an offence that carries a ban of up to two years.
A two-year suspension would see Messi miss qualification for the 2022 World Cup, as well as the Copa America next year in Argentina and Colombia.
CONMEBOL released a statement of their own following Messi’s comment, branding it “unacceptable”.
“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.”