Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti claims Lionel Messi is given favourable treatment by referees when it comes to dissent.
Verratti was sent off in the Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against Real Madrid after receiving a second yellow card for that very offence.
The Italy international admitted that his reaction was wrong, but feels Barcelona superstar Messi would not have been punished for similar behaviour.
‘I got it wrong against Real, but it was a red card out of frustration and sometimes referees could be more tolerant,’ he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
‘Whereas Messi goes around pointing his finger in the referee’s face and doesn’t even get punished.’
PSG were thought to be among the leading contenders to win Europe’s premier knockout competition, with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe having joined an already impressive squad.
But the gulf in class to reigning champions Madrid was evident in a 5-2 aggregate loss, with Neymar forced to miss the home match through injury.
Verratti added: ‘We were convinced we could go through, but then certain incidents happen.
‘Being without Neymar is like taking Messi away from Barcelona.’