Controversial Refereeing Lets Messi See Second Red Card of his Career



Justin Ehiogu


The Argentine maestro made history on Saturday’s Copa America third place win over Chile but, uncharacteristically, for all the wrong reasons.

Lionel Messi got embroiled in a heated contest with Chilean midfielder, Gary Medel, which led to both players’ dismissal. However, replays show that Messi was hard done by, that perhaps the referee had judged a little too rashly.

Medel had shielded the ball from Messi until it went out for a goal kick, but then the Argentine gave him a push – albeit a very innocuous and tolerable one,by all the laws of the game – starting off a physical confrontation between the two players. From the replays it is seen that Medel actually kept throwing himself onto Messi, as though to head-butt him (though never actually doing so), and while the Argentine stood his ground, adamant, and made no attempt to turn away, he never did enough to warrant a sending-off; and might indeed have walked away without even a booking, if the game had been officiated by a lenient referee. However, this referee adjudged it as violent conduct and sent both players out.

The verdict by most people is that the two players should have, at the very worst, received only a booking. Medel himself has come out to say that he never thought they would get even yellow cards. As for Messi, this furthered his protests that Argentina has had to endure a campaign hindered by unfair officiating, particularly on the back of the also-controversial semifinal loss to Brazil.

This was Messi’s second ever red card in his career, and also his second in an Argentinian shirt. The last time he had a red card (his first ever) was during his debut for Argentina against Hungary in 18 August 2005. He has never been sent off in any of his 687 games for Barcelona.


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