Argentina striker Lionel Messi admitted he made a mistake with his vocal criticism of his country’s FA, but refused to use the situation as an excuse should the Albiceleste lose their Copa America finals rematch against Chile on Sunday.
The Barcelona star made his feelings clear about the AFA on Thursday when he uploaded a photo to his social networks, with the clear message: “What a disaster the AFA are.”
Argentina captain Messi didn’t want to expand too much at the team hotel on Friday, saying he made a mistake with the Instagram post, but only because it is so close to the Copa America final.
“I made an error in the moment, with the final so close. We should be thinking about that,” said Messi. “Certain things have been going on for a while and we never say anything.
“We have to change and do things right,” he continued, adding that he would tell the full story after the Copa America. “We have to have the best, or as a minimum the same as the other national teams in the world.”
Messi’s comments come in the wake of the news that the AFA will have its affairs managed by an emergency FIFA panel, after Argentina soccer body president Luis Segura — a member of FIFA’s ruling council — was charged with fraud related to TV broadcasting rights.
There’s also a final around the corner and 29-year-old Messi — celebrating his birthday in New Jersey — is well aware Argentina haven’t won silverware at full national team level since the 1993 Copa America.
“I don’t know if it is my last opportunity [to win a trophy with Argentina], but we have to take advantage of it and take this cup by any means,” stressed Messi. “It is the fourth final that I’ve played with the national team and I’d like to change the story some day and to become champion.”
Messi said that despite off-the-field issues the Argentine side comes into the Copa America final in top condition, even if Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria, Nicolas Gaitan, Ever Banega and Augusto Fernandez all only had a light training session at a facility in front of MetLife Stadium on Friday afternoon.
“We arrive [at the final] in amazing [form],” he said. “On the field we have to show it against a national team doing very good things. It’ll be very difficult, but we are confident.”
And if the No. 10 is once again on the losing side with Argentina, he will be “disappointed,” although wouldn’t say it would be a “failure.”
Messi’s Argentina reached the final of the Copa America last year, but lost on penalties to Sunday’s opponent Chile.