Rio De Janeiro: Brazil coach Tite told Lionel Messi to show some respect following claims from the Argentina captain that the Copa America had been ‘fixed’ so the hosts would win.
Brazil clinched the Copa by defeating Peru 3-1 at the Maracana on Sunday but Tite felt that his side had been hard done by in some refereeing decisions and said Messi’s words had weighed on the officials.
“He has to show some respect, he must understand and accept when he’s defeated,” said Tite, whose side beat Argentina 2-0 in a controversial semi-final.
“We’ve been affected in many matches, even in the World Cup, so be very careful. He put a lot of pressure on because of how great a player he is. Everyone has their own problems and you have to be respectful,” he said.
Messi had hit out at South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL, accusing them of ‘corruption’ after he was sent off in Saturday’s third place play-off in which Argentina beat Chile 2-1.
He’d also claimed after Argentina’s semi-final defeat that the tournament hosts were ‘managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days’.
Argentina had been angered that VAR wasn’t used on two occasions to check the validity of their claims for a penalty that hadn’t been seen by the referee.
Messi was then harshly sent off against Chile following a tangle with Gary Medel in which he seemed to do nothing wrong.
The Barcelona star claimed afterwards he had paid for his previous criticisms.
“My words had repercussions, but you must always be sincere,” he said.
Tite agreed with that, claiming that Peru’s penalty in the final — converted by their captain Paolo Guerrero — should never have been given.
“Today it wasn’t a penalty. You have to be careful and show respect, as we respect others,” said Tite.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca, who is Argentine, agreed with the his Brazil counterpart.
“Messi is a voice of authority but that doesn’t mean I agree with what he said,” Gareca added.
Brazil midfielder Casemiro refused to be drawn on the Messi controversy, though.
“They can say what they want, we only talk about Brazil,” said the Real Madrid player.
As Brazil celebrated and posed for photos with their trophy, they were joined by the country’s far right President Jair Bolsonaro, a deeply divisive figure who has been accused of making racist, sexist and homophobic comments.
As he huddled with the players, some of them chanted ‘Legend’, as his supporters do.
His reception from the crowd was more mixed, though, with jeers audible above many cheering fans.
Asked about the message conveyed by his team celebrating with Bolsonaro, Tite sidestepped it.
“I’m so involved with football, I know things happen, but the way I’ve been brought up is that my focus is my essence,” he said.