Lionel Messi 'refuses' Copa America award as Chile triumph
Reports say Messi turned down player of the tournament award after tearing off loser's medal
Lionel Messi added to his collection of unwanted losers medals on Saturday and reportedly refused to accept the player of the tournament award as Argentina lost the final of the Copa America to Chile on penalties, to extend the Albiceleste's trophy drought beyond 22 years.
But while there was misery for Argentina, host nation Chile was left celebrating its first ever international title, clinched by Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal, who wrapped up the shoot-out with a scuffed Panenka penalty.
"Right now, both Chile and Argentina bask in golden generations, but for the hosts, giddy after powering, pressing and harrying their way to their first Copa America final since 1987, the wait for a maiden major title is finally over," says John Aizlewood of the Sunday Times. "Argentina, meanwhile, have not won the Copa since Gabriel Batistuta's brace against Mexico in 1993 and, bar a delightful semi-final trouncing of Paraguay, they had not so much flattered as failed to deceive."
Messi endured his quietest game of the tournament as a physical Chile threw everything they had at Argentina. He cut a "diminished, a frustrated and often isolated figure on the right, shirt untucked, shoulders slouched", says Jonathan Wilson of The Guardian.
After the match a disappointed Messi tore off his loser's medal, but at least avoided the indignity of having to accept the player of the tournament award as he did in Brazil last summer after losing the World Cup final to Germany.
Argentine media has claimed that the Barcelona star refused to accept the award after being told he was to be presented with the trophy. Footage from the final appears to back up the claim, as an official can be seen removing the trophy from the stage shortly before Argentina were handed their medals.
"Following a season in which Messi was often unplayable as Barcelona claimed the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, Messi was hoping to round things off with a first senior international accolade," repoirts the Daily Mail.
But Chile "upset the odds to record a historic first Copa triumph and leave Argentina the nearly-men once again", says the paper, which recalls that in 2014 "a sullen Messi was forced to go up on stage and receive the Golden Ball trophy [and] pose alongside victorious German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer."