The coach came to Leo’s defence after he accused CONMEBOL of setting up the Copa in Brazil’s favour following a contentious sending off
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has admitted he is baffled by the decision to send off Lionel Messi during the Copa America third place play-off and questioned the use of VAR in two key games for his side.
Messi lasted just 36 minutes of Saturday’s clash against Chile before he saw red along with Gary Medel when the pair clashed on the field .
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Medel showed more aggression during the stand-off, striking the Barcelona star with his head and shoulders while Messi stayed motionless – but despite Argentina’s protest referee Mario Diaz de Vivar had no hesitation in expelling both of the players.
Argentina went on to win 2-1, scoring through Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala before Arturo Vidal cut the deficit with a penalty after the red card incident.
But Messi refused to return to the Arena Corinthians pitch after full time to receive his medal for third place, and in heated comments to reporters hit out against alleged “corruption” and claimed the Copa is “all set up for Brazil” .
And while Scaloni did not go quite as far as his captain, he nevertheless had some harsh words for the standard of refereeing on Saturday and in the Albiceleste’s semi-final defeat to hosts Brazil.
“I still don’t understand what it is Messi did to get sent off,” he fired in a press conference.
“I feel that we should be playing the final right now, but we got the consolation prize of winning the third-place game, which is the least we had to do.
“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.”
Scaloni also turned his attention on VAR, after suggesting before the match Argentina played “against eight men in black” in reference to the officials during the Brazil match.
“The sensation from the game today is even stranger than the other day. I still don’t get the criteria for VAR in this Copa,” he added.
“Either the criteria is wrong, or [the referees] cannot agree on anything. I think that they still are unsure about the VAR system.”