Lionel Messi’s telenovela with the Argentinian national team continues. After losing in the finals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, the 29-year-old superstar said he was retiring from the national team. He eventually reconsidered.
Now, Messi was just handed a four-match ban by FIFA after he insulted a referee at the end of Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Chile last week. The suspension comes at a crucial point: after struggling earlier in 2018 World Cup qualifying, Argentina looked to be on track to move up the standings and fight for a ticket to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Messi’s suspension takes effect just before today’s CONMEBOL 2018 World Cup qualification match between Argentina and Bolivia and will continue through matches versus Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru.
Footage of the incident, which happened after the end of the match, shows Messi making physical contact with the assistant referee and directing some angry words at him:
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Although the suspension appears to be excessive, it’s important to note two players from Liga MX in Mexico, Enrique Triverio and Pablo Aguilar, were recently given one-year suspensions for making physical contact with referees.
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The suspensions were handed out after Liga MX referees went on strike, which led to the cancelation of every Liga MX match on week 10 of its schedule.
According to the Telegraph, Argentina’s soccer federation says it will appeal the ban.