FIFA Slams Messi 4-Match Ban After Insulting Ref in World Cup Qualifier

FIFA Slams Messi 4-Match Ban After Insulting Ref in World Cup Qualifier
FIFA Slams Messi 4-Match Ban After Insulting Ref in World Cup Qualifier

FIFA Slams Messi 4-Match Ban After Insulting Ref in World Cup Qualifier

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has been hit with a four-match ban by Fifa after he verbally abused a match official in a World Cup qualifying game against Chile last week.

Messi, who scored the winning goal in the tie, has also been handed a $10,000 fine by Fifa’s disciplinary panel for the incident that will see him miss the Albieceleste’s crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier away at Bolivia later tonight.

Delivering the ruling, Fifa said Messi was guilty of “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee,” before adding: “This decision is in line with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee’s previous rulings in similar cases.”

Messi reportedly called the assistant ref a ‘c**t’. Image: BBCSport

Though the incident was not contained in the initial match report by Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci, Fifa decided to intervene after assistant referee Emerson Carvalho complained of the insults.

Television pictures showed Messi reacting angrily and shouting profanities at Carvalho, and after the game, the Argentine superstar refused to shake hands with the official.

Messi’s suspension comes at a bad time for Argentina who travel to the altitude of La Paz without the suspended quartet of Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia and Nicolas Otamendi, while coach Edgardo Bauza has announced that underperforming Sergio Aguero has been yanked from the starting XI.

Argentina are third in CONMEBOL qualifying, but often struggle in the absence of talisman Messi, having won only one of seven games without him.

The 29-year-old will also miss Argentina’s game at Uruguay on Aug. 31, and home games against Venezuela on Sept. 5 and Peru on Oct. 5.

Only the top four teams advance to the World Cup finals in Russia.

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