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Argentine sport court member advises Messi to apologize

In this July 6, 2019 photo, Argentina's Lionel Messi, center left, and Chile's Gary Medel, center right, scuffle as referee Mario Diaz, from Paraguay, left, shows a red card to both of them during the Copa America third-place soccer match at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Lionel Messi should apologize for his harsh comments at the Copa America in order to avoid a sanction, an Argentine member of sport's highest court said on Monday.

    Following defeats in the last two finals, Messi had another frustrating end to the tournament when he was sent off in the third-place game between Argentina and Chile. He protested the refereeing and alleged "corruption," claiming Argentina had been treated unfairly.

    Although a decision has not been announced, CONMEBOL could penalize Messi.

    "I'd advise Messi to apologize because they're going to shake him with a sanction," Gustavo Abreu, an Argentine member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport told local Club Octubre radio. "He should apologize so they don't hit him with everything."

    Abreu also suggested the Argentine Football Association contact Messi and ask him to say sorry.

    Messi was red carded after getting into a first-half shoving match with Chile midfielder Gary Medel, who also was ejected.

    Argentina won 2-1 but Messi didn't show up for the medal ceremony to protest the refereeing. He had harsh words after the match, saying "we shouldn't take part in this corruption."

    Messi had several objections.

    "There was lack of respect toward us during this Copa America," he said. "We could have done better, but they didn't let us make it to the final. Corruption and the referees are not letting the fans enjoy football. This is ruining football."

    Messi had already loudly complained against Copa America refereeing after Argentina's loss to Brazil in the semifinals, hinting the result was expected because the hosts were allegedly in charge of South American soccer.

    Messi said he expected Brazil to win the final against Peru, claiming it was already set up for the host's victory.

    When asked if he feared being suspended for his comments, Messi said "the truth needed to be told."

    CONMEBOL later released a statement condemning the "unacceptable" and "baseless accusations" that discredited the Copa America's integrity.

    "In football, sometimes you lose and sometimes you win," the statement said. "One of the fundamental pillars of fair play is to accept the results and the refereeing decisions with respect."

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