FIFA lifts Lionel Messi’s Four-Match International Ban

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi speaks to an assistant referee during a 1-0 win over Chile in March, 2017.

The 29-year-old Barcelona forward was suspended for directing “insulting words” at an assistant referee during a 1-0 win over Chile in March.

He missed one match – Argentina’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss to Bolivia. Lionel Messi is now free to represent Argentina in their next World Cup qualifiers.

A Fifa appeal committee said while his behaviour was “reproachable”, the evidence was not sufficient.

He will now be available for matches against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru as Argentina fight to secure a place at next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.

A fine of 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,800) was also lifted.

During the Chile game, Messi was caught on camera venting his anger at an assistant who signalled he had committed a foul.

He was not shown a card at the time.

The Fifa appeal committee concluded “the evidence available was not sufficient to establish” an infringement had occurred.

“The appeal committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football and any unsporting conduct that may be contrary to the principles of fair play cannot be accepted,” it said in a statement.

Messi had faced missing Argentina’s next three qualifiers, but will now be available for all four of their remaining four matches.

Argentina are fifth in their group of 10, with the top four qualifying automatically and the fifth team going into a play-off.

The next four games for Argentina are 31 August – Uruguay (away), 5 September – Venezuela (home), 5 October – Peru (home) and 10 October – Ecuador (away).

FIFA/BBC

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