Lionel Messi Faces Up to 2 Years Ban For Accusing CONMEBOL of Fixing Copa America for Brazil
Lionel Messi lashed out at the refereeing at Copa America 2019 Brazil and said that the tournament was set up for the hosts.
Lionel Messi's stand-off with CONMEBOL could have serious implications for him and Argentina. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Lionel Messi may receive a harsh punishment from CONMEBOL, the continental governing body of football in South America, after accusing the federation and referees of "fixing" the Copa America for Brazil.
On Sunday night, Brazil beat Peru 3-1 at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro to lift their ninth Copa America title and fifth on home soil.
However, over the past few days, the headlines have been dominated by Messi who lashed out at the refereeing and felt that the tournament was set up for the hosts Brazil.
MESSI'S ALTERCATION WITH CONMEBOL
Messi's Argentina lost to Brazil 2-0 in the semi-final of the tournament, where they were denied a couple of penalties. After the loss, Messi criticised the refereeing in front of the reporters.
The matter, however, escalated when Messi went a step further in accusing CONMEBOL after Argentina's 2-1 win over Chile in the bronze medal play-off.
After the match, Messi said, "We don't have to be part of this corruption. The lack of respect that they have showed us throughout this tournament.
"Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don't allow people to enjoy football, they ruined it a bit.
"I think the cup is fixed for Brazil. I hope that the VAR and the referees have nothing to do in this final and that Peru can compete because they have the team to do so although I think it's difficult."
Messi also suggested that the red card he received in the match against Chile, only the second of his entire career, was due to the comments he made on the refereeing.
CONMEBOL have now released a statement of their own calling Messi's comments "unacceptable" and that it showed his "lack of respect" for Copa America.
"In football sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and accepting the outcome of a match with loyalty and respect is a fundamental pillar of fair play. Same goes to the refereeing decisions, that are human and will never be perfect," CONMEBOL's statement read.
"It's unacceptable that because of incidents proper to the competitions, where 12 Nations competed in, all in equal condition, there have been unfounded accusations that misrepresent the truth and put to judgement the integrity of Copa America. 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."
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT MESSI IS FACING?
Lionel Messi's accusations against CONMEBOL may have extreme repercussions for him and Argentina. It is clear with CONMEBOL's statement that they are not taking the Argentine superstar's behaviour lightly and may sanction him.
According to CONMEBOL rules, insulting the federation and its officials is prohibited. Article 7 of the CONMEBOL rulebook states the various sanctionable infractions, which show Messi is in trouble.
Point 2(b) of the article states, "Behaving in an offensive, insulting way or making defamatory statements of any kind" and point 2(d) mentions, "Insult in any way and by any means to CONMEBOL, its authorities, officials, etc.", as sanctionable infractions.
Now, going by the rules, Messi is facing a ban of up to two years. The president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), Claudio Tapia, hinted at the same in the mixed zone when he said, "I can not speak because I can be sanctioned for two years".
If Messi indeed gets such a sanction, he will miss both the qualification for 2022 World Cup in Qatar and 2020 Copa America in Argentina and Colombia.
With Messi turning 34 by then, it might even be curtains for his career.
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