Argentina star Lionel Messi was on Sunday shown the red card before half-time as Argentina beat Chile 2-1 to finish third in Copa América tournament in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The incident happened in the 34th minute when Chile’s captain, Gary Medel, shepherded out a ball near his own goal and was challenged by Messi from behind. Medel got angry at the Argentina star and pushed him. Medel also raised hands at Messi. Though Messi did not react to the attack, the Paraguayan referee, Mario Díaz de Vivar, decided to show red card to both Medel and Messi. It was only the second red card of Messi’s career. Messi was first shown the red card on his debut for Argentina in 2005 against Hungary.
After the match, Messi expressed his anger over the decision by refusing to collect his third-place medal with his teammates. Messi later said that he was shown the red card because of his harsh criticism of officials following Argentina's semifinal loss against Brazil.
Messi said that it's a game and players often lose their cool. He defended Medel by saying that he always plays to the limit. Taking a dig at the referee, Messi said that he overreacted by showing red cards to both of us.
The Argentinian minced no words and said that he was angry because he did not deserve that red card. Messi remarked that there is a lot of corruption in football now and there is a feeling that referees did not allow Argentina to be in the final.
The red card means that Messi will not be able to play in Argentina's opening World Cup qualifier in March. Messi, however, appeared unperturbed and saud that he was willing to face an additional ban for his strong comments after the match.