Lionel Messi has stated that “football wasn’t fair” to Argentina following their third-place finish at Copa America.
The Barcelona forward was at the centre of controversy as Argentina beat Chile 2-1 in the third-place play-off game, receiving a red card alongside Gary Medel after the pair clashed on the pitch after 36 minutes.
Messi’s team-mates provided the goods despite his dismissal as Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala’s efforts proved enough to secure third place, despite Arturo Vidal’s goal from the penalty spot on 59 minutes.
In an Instagram story published after the final whistle, Messi said: "We are leaving this Copa with a win but above all with our heads held high and the feeling that this time football wasn't fair with us.
“Because of how we played and because we were better than Brazil, we deserved to be in the final tomorrow.
“But we have to look ahead with optimism because there is a future here and a great base in this national team and we just have to give it time."
The Argentinian showed less restraint with his comments immediately following the final whistle however, accusing CONMEBOL of “corruption” as well as claiming that “the whole thing is set up for Brazil.”
“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,” he said.
"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.”
Argentina’s third-place finish will likely prove little consolation for Messi and his team-mates, who lost to Chile on penalties in the previous two Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016.
Messi’s coach with the national team, Lionel Scaloni, admitted that he was unsure why the 32-year-old received his marching orders , telling a press conference: "I still don't understand what it is Messi did to get sent off.
"We believe that when one of us is hit we all are, in a football sense. You cannot look away when a team-mate is mistreated.
"We saw it with Leo and with others too. We built a team through our unity."