The Argentina Football Association (AFA) want Lionel Messi’s red card rescinded, according to reports in the country.
La Nacion newspaper have claimed the AFA have requested, in a written letter to South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL, that the referee’s decision be overturned.
Messi was sent off by referee Mario Diaz de Vivar after clashing with Chile’s Gary Medel in Argentina’s Copa America third-place playoff on July 7. It was his first red card for either club or country since 2005.
The newspaper wrote that, in the document sent to CONMEBOL’s disciplinary body, which was also signed by Messi, the AFA argued the Barcelona star did not deserve to be dismissed and that a yellow card would have sufficed.
The Argentina captain appeared to shove Medel in the back as both players chased a ball off the pitch. Medel responded by pushing Messi and thrusting his head at him multiple times. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, though, raised his arm to suggest he wasn’t involved in the confrontation yet was still sent off — as was the Besiktas midfielder.
Messi boycotted the medal ceremony after Argentina beat Chile.
The AFA have reportedly asked CONMEBOL that if the ban is maintained, Messi receive the minimum punishment which would be a mandatory one-game ban served when Argentina face Chile in a friendly on Sep. 5 in Los Angeles.
There are fears in Argentina, however, that Messi could be handed a lengthier ban following the player’s comments during the Copa America.
Messi accused organisers and referees of “corruption,” stating that he thought the Copa was “fixed for Brazil” to win it.
The local organising committee issued a statement claiming it had offered equal conditions of play and structure to all teams and that “putting the integrity of the competition at risk is disrespectful to all participants and to the professionals and institutions that have worked really hard in the last 18 months to hold this edition of the oldest football tournament in the world.”
The AFA filed a letter of complaint to CONMEBOL last week to protest “irregularities” which hindered their national team in their 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the Copa America semifinal.
The letter, signed by AFA supremo Claudio Tapia, claims “serious and grave refereeing mistakes” that influenced the national team’s elimination from the competition.
Argentina want Messi to be available to play at the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers next March, with coach Lionel Scaloni expected to stay on as manager of the Albiceleste.