• News

Chile captain Gary Medel backs Lionel Messi after red card

Getty Images

Gary Medel has thrown his full support to Lionel Messi after the duo were dismissed following an altercation in Chile and Argentina’s third-place playoff.

Medal and Messi had a bust-up on Saturday in Sao Paulo after the ball had gone behind for a Chile goal-kick.

However, things took a turn when Medal shoved his head and chest repeatedly at Messi. This led the referee, Mario Diaz de Vivar, to hand them both red cards in the 37th-minute of the match.

Therefore, both Chile and Argentina were forced to play with 10-men for the remainder of the game despite the repeated protests to the referee on behalf of Messi.

Even without the Barcelona superstar leading the attack, though, Argentina managed to win 2-1 through first-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala.

But nothing could take away Messi’s fury at the end of the playoff. In fact, the forward was so upset he even refused to show up for Argentina’s medal presentation afterwards.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner then left reporters stunned by openly accusing the South American football governing body, CONMEBOL, of corruption. Apparently, the entire Copa America was set-up for hosts Brazil to win.

And now even Medal has spoken up in Messi’s defence by claiming that the referee had treated him harshly by showing him a red card.

“I agree with Messi, I didn’t even think we’d get a yellow for it,” the Chile captain told La Nacion.

“There were a few shoves but that was it. The referee could’ve handled that a lot better.”

The CONMEBOL, meanwhile, have since denied Messi’s “unacceptable” and “unfounded” claims on corruption on their behalf.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JULY 06: Players of Argentina and Chile argue with Referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after showing Gary Medel of Chile and Lionel Messi of Argentina (not in frame) the red card during the Copa America Brazil 2019 Third Place match between Argentina and Chile at Arena Corinthians on July 06, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)