Monday, 8 July 2019

UEFA denies inviting Argentina to Nations League after Messi Copa America row

UEFA has denied reports it would entertain inviting Argentina into its European competitions following the 2019 Copa America.

Argentina finished third at the Copa but captain and star man Lionel Messi voiced complaints following the semi-final and the third-place play-off, during which he was controversially sent off.

Messi described the officiating during the loss to Brazil as "bull****" and suggested his side were victims of "corruption" after beating Chile, which led to a strong rebuttal from CONMEBOL who described his comments as "unacceptable" and "unfounded".

It was subsequently reported UEFA could invite Argentina to enter its Nations League.

However, European football's governing body has denied this is the case, insisting such an offer would never be forthcoming.

A statement read: "There is no truth whatsoever in the suggestion that Argentina has been asked to participate in UEFA competitions, nor to become a member of UEFA.

"UEFA has never entered into any discussions on this matter and would never do so.

"However, in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie and as an inclusive organisation, UEFA will, of course, invite Argentina as special guests to watch any UEFA competition at any time."

La Albiceleste's 26-year wait for silverware has been extended after their latest failure, while Messi is also still awaiting his first piece of silverware at international level.

The Barcelona superstar has often been criticised for failing to match his exploits at club level with his country and there has been some suggestion he could now miss out on the 2019 Ballon d'Or award.
Messi has five awards to his name to date, tied level with Juventus and Portugalace Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is the favourite to pick up the accolade once again this year.

The 32-year-old hit 51 goals across all competitions for Barca last season, winning La Liga in the process, however, Argentina's Copa America exit can now be added to a semi-final Champions League loss and a Copa del Rey final defeat with Ernesto Valverde's side.

Liverpool's Virgil Van Dijk has been tipped to beat Messi to the Ballon d'Or after leading Jurgen Klopp's team to European Cup glory, while teammate Alisson has also been named as a potential winner after an outstanding year between the sticks.

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