After initial speculation on Sunday morning’s broadcast, reports from Argentina suggest that the Copa America’s best player of the tournament award was removed from the stage and not awarded after Messi turned it down following his country’s penalty shootout defeat to Chile. There was criticism and cynicism after Messi won the Golden Ball at the 2014 FIFA World Cup final, won by Germany against Argentina. Messi reportedly turned this Copa America award down to avoid another awkward presentation, and because he was too distraught by the defeat.
AS reports that he asked officials not to present it to him at the presentation, while MARCA says he similarly knocked back the award after Paraguay came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 earlier in the tournament.
Despite a strong contribution at various stages through the tournament, the Barcelona whiz was anonymous in the final, and didn’t score from open play through the tournament. He showed his disappointment by immediately taking his runners’ up medal from around neck.
He did, however, show plenty of class while on the pitch after the loss, taking what must be the saddest selfie in sport with a young Chile fan likely oblivious to the superstar’s disappointment.
Messi, unsurprisingly, made the Copa America team of the tournament, which was dominated by hosts and winners Chile.
COPA TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT
Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo (Chile); Defence: Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina), Gary Medel (Chile), Jeison Murillo (Colombia); Midfield: Arturo Vidal (Chile), Marcelo Diaz (Chile), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Christian Cueva (Peru); Attack: Lionel Messi (Argentina), Paolo Guerrero (Peru), Eduardo Vargas (Chile).
-With New Age input