With Chile defeating Argentina for the second time in the 2016 Copa America final, the country adds an entry to its long list of up final defeats. But this comes with a larger share of shock as Lionel Messi decides to retire form International football.
Humans have always wondered how to quantify emotions. For emotions like love, pain, and anger, there exists to no exact scale to measure its intensity. The best that humans have are examples of real life instances. Instances, which act as universal reference points to benchmark the intensity of such emotions. And we witnessed one recently.
As most people following sports, and football in particular, witnessed the anguish one of the most unexpected defeats in the recent international football history. Argentina, a country with an undefeated streak of nine consecutive matches in the tournament, fell as Chile won the Copa America. This defeat comes in a line of such consecutive tournament final defeats that Lionel Messi, the current Argentinian striker and lead goal scorer in the country’s history has decided to retire from the world of international football. “It's not meant for me. For me the national team is over. I've done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion. I tried so hard to be a champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it. I think it’s best for everyone, for me and for many people who want it. The choice for me is over, it is a decision” said the twenty nine year old Argentinian forward. This comes after the prolific football star having been part of four consecutive defeats international football tournaments.
The defeat continued Argentina’s 23-year trophy less run and extend Messi’s own personal misery to four lost finals with the national side – at the 2014 World Cup against Germany and at three Copa Americas, in 2007, 2015 and now 2016.
Following their loss to Chile on the basis of penalties (similar to the circumstances of defeat against Chile in the 2014 Copa America) the team has its morale in shambles. And sentiment to quit has perpetuated to other players within the team. Sergio Aguero, the Argentinian striker who was part of the team during the world cup defeat as well highlighted the seriousness of the problem. "There are several players who are evaluating not continuing with the national team," Aguero said. "This is the worst locker room I've ever been in, worse than the final in the World Cup in Brazil and the other Copa America."
A team that was once touted to win the tournament, now seems to stand at the brink of losing some its most important players. This has bound to affect the morale of the members, pushing some of the star performers over the edge. It is in times like these that the manager and coach, like any effective leader, has to pull the team through the heavy climate of self-criticism and de-motivation. To ensure that team is able to take these set vacks in their stride and evolve strategies accordingly. The hall mark of the great leader is to calm the nerves, pause to assess the situation and show its members a constructive way to recovery.
But that has not been the case with the Argentinian Football team. Many point fingers to the Argentine Football Association (AFA) for the cracks in the team. Facing strong finance and governance crisis for the past couple of years, the federation has been reprimanded by FIFA several times, offering the 30th of June as its deadline to get its house in order. Messi himself has had spats with the FA on their improper management of the team during the tournament.
Given the lack of proper guidance and leadership to the national team, the players distrust in their performance at an international level has developed over the series of defeats they have faced. Given the rise of the team in recent times has been mostly due to great individual players like Lionel Messi, Angel De Maria and Surgio Augerio, a lack of a strong support structure has been a ticking bomb for the team. Although most decisions of leaving the team were taken in the heat of the moment, the eye of the Chilean storm, the world surely hopes that the Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and who has represented his country for the 112 times since making his debut in 2005 as an 18-year-old, dons the national jersey again. This would mean the AFA can sort out its mess and put in well-oiled structure towards supporting the talent within the team to ensure they perform well as a team in tough situations. This especially becomes important with the 2018 World Cup right around the corner.