CONMEBOL rejects Messi’s Copa America criticism

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Rio de Janeiro, July 8 (IANS) South American football governing body CONMEBOL on Sunday rejected claims from Argentina captain Lionel Messi that results at the Copa America in Brazil were fixed.

Messi said he and his team were the victims of “corruption” after the forward 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 on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Medel was also dismissed, having seemingly provoked the incident.

Messi also said the tournament was “set up” for Brazil, whose 2-0 semifinal defeat of Argentina was marked by refereeing controversies.

In a brief statement, CONMEBOL described Messi’s comments as showing “a lack of respect”.

“The Copa America received all 12 national teams with the same professionalism and respect,” the organization said in a statement.

“All teams were offered equal conditions of play and structure, with the sole purpose of seeing athletes and fans celebrating football with passion and fair play.

“Putting the integrity of the competition in question is a lack of respect for all participants, professionals and institutions that have worked hard in the last 18 months to hold this edition of the oldest football tournament in the world.”

Brazil and Peru were due to meet in the Copa America final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

–IANS

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