World Cup Hope for Argentina As Messi Appeals 4-Match Ban
World football governing body, Fifa on Thursday heard Argentina captain Lionel Messi’s appeal against his four-match international ban imposed for insulting a match official during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Spanish media reports that Messi did not travel to Fifa headquarters in Zurich for the hearing but made his defence in a video conference call.
The Fifa Appeal committee was not expected to make an immediate decision on the ban that’s been widely condemned as excessive, AFP writes.
Messi was suspended for insulting an assistant referee during Argentina’s 1-0 win over Chile in March, an incident that was not contained in the official match report.
The 29-year-old missed the 2-0 defeat at Bolivia as a result of the ban, and is set to sit out another away game at Uruguay and home matches against Venezuela and Peru should the ban stand.
Though he returns to the squad when Argentina visit Ecuador on Oct. 10. in their final game, the damage could already be done then as the struggling Albiceleste are heavily dependent on their talisman.
Two-time World Cup winners Argentina are precariously sitting fifth in the 10-team South American group with 22 points from 14 games, two ahead of Ecuador and four ahead of Peru.
Only top four get automatic qualification for the Mundial in Russia next year, with the fifth-placed side going into a playoff against a team from Oceania.
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