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Messi: Copa America ‘corrupt’ and ‘fixed’ for Brazil

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Lionel Messi received his first red card in 14 years on Saturday, and it was just the second of his glittering career.

The Argentina and Barcelona star didn’t accept his sending off quietly. At all.

Speaking to reporters after Argentina beat Chile 2-1 to seal third place at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, Messi revealed that he believes the referees and CONMEBOL aren’t being fair and that everything is set up for Brazil to win the final against Peru on Sunday.

“We don’t have to be part of this corruption,” Messi said. “They have showed us a lack of respect throughout this tournament. Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don’t allow people to enjoy football, they ruined it a bit. I think the cup is fixed for Brazil. I hope that the VAR and the referees have nothing to do in this final and that Peru can compete because they have the team to do so although I think it’s difficult.”

Messi’s lost his cool along with Chile’s Gary Medel in a heated confrontation which involved plenty of shoulder barging, but both players deserved probably a yellow card each and a stern talking too. The red card was harsh and Messi is feeling rightly aggrieved.

But he seems to have taken it a little too far with these comments, as a statement from CONMEBOL (which didn’t name Messi directly) said that “unfounded accusations have been launched that lack the truth and question the integrity of the Copa America. These accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the participating players and the hundreds of professionals of CONMEBOL.”

You can’t help but feel that over 15 years of close calls, and ultimate failure, for Argentina are weighing heavy on Messi’s shoulders. They’ve now lost in a World Cup final, three Copa America finals and a Copa America semifinal with Messi, who has come out of international retirement, as their main main.

Until he wins some silverware on the international stage, those questions will always be asked about how good he actually was compared to Pele, Diego Maradona and even Cristiano Ronaldo who have all led their nations to silverware.

Messi, 32, probably has one last crack at winning the World Cup with Argentina in 2022 before he calls it quits. The clock is ticking and Messi is feeling the pressure, with his presence at the 2020 Copa America, joint hosted by Argentina and Colombia, now far from certain after this outburst.

Who are the favorites to replace Pochettino at Tottenham?

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Mauricio Pochettino was fired by Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday in a shock move by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

Who’s next?

[ MORE: Social media reacts to Poch exit ]

Spurs host West Ham United in a massive London derby this Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and it will be intriguing to see if the new man in charge will be in the dugout.

Tottenham must already have someone lined up, or at least someone in mind, to pull the plug on Pochettino after his five year spell in charge of the north London club totally transformed their fortunes.

Some huge managers are the early frontrunners for the now vacant position with Pochettino’s close friend, Jose Mourinho, the overwhelming favorite to take charge of Tottenham. Eddie Howe and Brendan Rodgers have both been linked with the position as they continue to work wonders at Bournemouth and Leicester City respectively, although it would be tough to imagine Rodgers would leave Leicester given their incredible start to the season. Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo is also a contender, but given the financial backing he has received he may stay at Molineux for the time being.

Looking to Europe, Ajax coach Erik ten Hag is a name which keeps cropping up, while Max Allegri is out of work and he ran a tight ship at Juventus, plus he has not been hiding his desire to work in the Premier League. Julian Nagelsmann has only just taken charge of RB Leipzig so it would be strange for him to bail out on that new project, while Rafael Benitez could certainly be lured to return from the Chinese Super League but that would be a left-field choice.

All signs point to Mourinho or Allegri…

Below is a look at the current bookmakers favorites to replace Pochettino at Spurs, listed in the order of who is favorite.

  • Jose Mourinho
  • Massimiliano Allegri
  • Eddie Howe
  • Brendan Rodgers
  • Erik Ten Hag
  • Julian Nagelsmann
  • Rafael Benitez
  • Nuno Espirito Santo

Social media reacts to Pochettino’s shock firing

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Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur after he spent over five years in charge.

The Argentine coach has seen his Spurs side slump in recent months as they stumbled through the latter months of last season despite a miraculous run to the UEFA Champions League final as they lost to Liverpool in Madrid.

Pochettino’s side currently sit 14th in the Premier League table after three wins from their opening 12 games of the season and with so many players seemingly ready to leave this summer (Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose to name a few) all was not well behind-the-scenes.

But nobody expected this so early in the season and so soon after Tottenham moved into their new home and big spending was promised.

Here’s a look at some of the reaction on social media to the shock firing of Pochettino.


Mauricio Pochettino fired at Tottenham Hotspur

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In a shocking turn of events during the international break, Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked as Tottenham Hotspur manager.

The club sits 14th in the Premier League table, without a win in its last five league games.

“We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the Board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” the club said in its official statement. Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.

“It falls to the Board to make the difficult decisions – this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff – but we do so in the Club’s best interests. Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history. I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us. I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here. We have a talented squad. We need to re-energize and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”

Reports had suggested over the past few days that his position was becoming more and more untenable, but there was no indication that a change was this imminent. The Telegraph reported Monday that Pochettino was set to meet with Daniel Levy during the international break about the direction of the club, and they suggested the game against West Ham United this weekend could be “make or break” for the Argentine.

Pochettino had been with the club since joining in 2014. They reached the Champions League final last season, losing to Liverpool.

Maradona resigns as manager of Gimnasia

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Diego Maradona has resigned as boss of top-flight Argentine club Gimnasia, the club president told domestic media on Tuesday.

According to Argentine journalist Juan Pablo Varsky, Gimnasia president Gabriel Pellegrino told Radio La Red on Tuesday that Maradona had stepped down as boss with just three matches to go in the league season. The 59-year-old has reportedly been disillusioned that Pellegrino will not be running for another term as club president and has thus decided to end his tenure early.

Maradona’s contract was set to run through the end of the league season, which concludes December 8. The election for club president takes place this coming Saturday.

Maradona has only been in charge of the club since early September, and while he lost his first three matches in charge, he has since won three of the last five. The club sits 22nd in the 24-team league table.

 

Pellegrino has been in charge of the club since 2016, with elections taking place every three years.

The legendary former player has previously managed Liga MX side Dorados de Sinaloa, UAE club Fujairah, and the Argentina national team.