Copa América: Messi fails again with Argentina

Argentina’s senior squad has not won a title in 26 years, with the last one coming when Lionel Messi was five years old. (AP)
Updated 03 July 2019

Copa América: Messi fails again with Argentina

  • Argentina’s senior squad has not won a title in 26 years, with the last one coming when Lionel Messi was five years old
  • The Barcelona playmaker Messi has complained about the refereeing

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil: Another elimination for Argentina, another missed opportunity for Lionel Messi to succeed with the national team.
Messi’s streak without a title with Argentina has been extended after a 2-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals of the Copa América on Tuesday.
Argentina’s senior squad hasn’t won a title in 26 years, with the last one coming when Messi was five years old.
The Barcelona playmaker stood by himself and looked in despair after the final whistle at the Mineirão Stadium.
“We played a great match,” Messi said. “We put in a great effort, but they were better than us.”
The 32-year-old Messi had his best match of the tournament, leading the team and creating most of the danger for Argentina in attack. He made a few good runs and put his teammates in good position to score, but again it wasn’t enough.
It was from a Messi cross that Sergio Agüero hit the crossbar in the first half, and in the second the Barcelona playmaker had two chances from direct free kicks, one saved by Brazil goalkeeper Allison and another that deflected off the Brazilian wall. He also struck the post with a shot from inside the area after halftime.
Messi complained about the refereeing, saying video review should have been used to check on a couple of non-calls that could have favored the Argentines with penalty kicks.
“Every minimum contact was a foul for them,” he said. “Hopefully CONMEBOL (the South American soccer confederation) will do something about these refereeing issues. We gave everything we had, but we had things going against us. But I don’t think they will do anything, Brazil manages everything.”
Messi’s only title with Argentina was with the under-23 squad in the 2008 Olympics.
His first major tournament with the senior squad was in the 2006 World Cup, when Argentina fell to host Germany in the quarterfinals. He lost to Brazil in the final of the 2007 Copa América, and three years later Argentina again fell to Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Messi and Argentina again couldn’t get past the last eight in the 2011 Copa América, losing to eventual champion Uruguay.
One of Messi’s best tournaments with the national team came in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when Argentina made it to the final but lost 1-0 to Germany.
He came close again in the last two editions of the Copa América, losing both finals in penalty shootouts against Chile.
Messi was one of the three veterans who lost those two finals and the one in the World Cup in 2014, along with Agüero and Ángel Di María.
Messi said after the 2016 loss to Chile he would not return to the national team, but he sounded more optimistic this time, saying “Argentina has material to keep growing.”
Argentina will play the third-place game on Saturday in São Paulo against either two-time defending champion Chile or Peru, who will play in the other semifinal on Wednesday in Porto Alegre.


FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup

Updated 07 April 2020

FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup

  • Suspicion and rumors have long surrounded Qatar's bid

LONDON: The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has become the focus of fresh FIFA corruption allegations after the release of a new US Department of Justice indictment which says bribes were paid to football officials to secure their votes for hosting rights.

Suspicion and rumors have long surrounded both the 2010 vote by FIFA’s executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. But on Monday, for the first time, prosecutors set direct, formal allegations down in print.

According to the prosecutors, representatives working for Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA executive committee officials to swing votes in the crucial decision of world football’s governing body.

FIFA and the Qatar World Cup organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Qatar and Russia’s World Cup bids have always denied paying bribes.

Although FIFA has reacted to previous media allegations about the Qatar bid process by insisting the tournament will be unaffected, the USallegations will lead to further questions over the hosting of the tournament, which is scheduled for November and December of 2022.

The indictment states that the three South American members of FIFA’s 2010 executive — Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira, the late Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and an unnamed co-conspirator — took bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 tournament.

“Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and co-conspirator #1 were offered and received bribe payments in exchange for their votes in favor of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup,” reads the indictment.

Teixeira, the former son-in-law of long-time FIFA boss Joao Havelange and ex-head of the Brazilian soccer federation (CBF), was not immediately reachable for comment.

The DOJ also alleges that then FIFA vice president Jack Warner was paid $5 million through various shell companies to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.

Warner has been accused of a number of crimes in the long-running USprobe and is fighting extradition from his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. Warner, who was not immediately reachable for comment, has always denied any wrongdoing.

Alexei Sorokin, CEO of the local organizing committee for Russia’s 2018 World Cup, told the Interfax news agency: “This is only the opinion of lawyers. We have repeatedly said that our bid was transparent.

“At the time we answered all questions, including from the investigation branch of FIFA and from the media, we handed over all needed documents. We have nothing to add to this and we will not respond to attempts to cast a shadow on our bid.”

Asked if the Kremlin was aware of the US indictment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We read the media reports. We don’t understand what they refer to.

“Russia received the right to host the World Cup completely legally. It is in no way linked to any bribes. We reject this. And Russia hosted the best soccer World Cup in history, which we are proud of.”

The Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament.

In 2014, FIFA, then under the control of former President Sepp Blatter, cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in their bids to host the World Cup after an investigation.

Blatter was banned from football by FIFA along with scores of other officials following internal ethics investigations, promoted by the arrests of seven FIFA officials on UScorruption charges in Zurich in May 2015.