Lionel Messi suspended for 4 games for insulting referee

Ross Houston
April 6, 2017

Lionel Messi was banned for four worldwide matches - just five and a half hours before Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Bolivia kicked off.

Argentina felt the loss of the suspended Lionel Messi as they were beaten 2-0 by Bolivia in La Paz in a key World Cup qualifying game.

He was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs (9,350 euros, $10,170), with FIFA saying: "This decision is in line with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee's previous rulings in similar cases".

This is such bad timing for Argentina, who is third in South American World Cup qualifying with Chile on their heels on sixth place by a mere two points.

There are five matches still to play in the qualifiers.

Messi is unsurprisingly Argentina's top scorer, and they now face a tough trip to historic rivals Uruguay in their next qualifier, without him. He will be back for the final qualifying game away to Ecuador on 10 October.

Messi's club Barcelona described his four-match global ban as "unfair and totally disproportionate".

Messi's ban means he will not be part of three of his country's four remaining qualifiers.

Argentina lie third in the South American qualifying group, with only the top four guaranteed a place in Russian Federation 2018.

He was caught on camera venting his fury at an assistant who signalled he had committed a foul late on in Argentina's 1-0 win.

"With Messi in the side, they've played six and won five".

However, Argentina is planning to make an appeal against the severity of Messi's ban. Argentina has announced plans to appeal the decision, voicing particular outrage at the timing of the announcement, falling days after the Chile game and only hours before the match in Bolivia.

According to Argentine newspaper, Ole, match referee Sandro Ricci said he was unaware that Messi had insulted any official during the match and didn't mention the incident in his original report.

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