Lionel Messi has been banned from international matches for three months and hit with a $50,000 fine by South America’s football governing body CONMEBOL on Friday (2nd August)
The sanctions come after Messi accused CONMEBOL of corruption following his red card in last month’s Copa America third-place playoff after tangling with Chile’s Gary Medel, who also received his marching orders.
The ban means Messi won’t be able to represent Argentina until November 2.19, meaning he’ll miss the international friendlies against Chile and Mexico in September and Germany in October, as well as one World Cup qualifier.
As things stand, he could return for a friendly against Brazil, which has provisionally been scheduled for November 13.
Messi hit out at CONMEBOL following the red card, his first since being sent off on his debut for Argentina in 2005, and refused to collect his bronze medal after the match.
He declared: “There is no doubt, the whole thing is set up for Brazil.
“I did not want to be part of this corruption, we shouldn’t have to be part of this disrepect we suffered during the Copa America.
“We could have gone further but we weren’t allowed into the final. Corruption, referees and all the rest stopped people from enjoying the football.
“I always tell the truth and I’m honest, that is what keeps me calm, if what I say has repercussions that is not my business.” Messi later sent an apology to CONMEBOL for his remarks.
CONMEBOL said his comments were “unacceptable”.
“There is no excuses for us, but we need to review this, analyse it and let’s hope CONMEBOL does something about it – but surely not, because Brazil commands too much power in the organisation.”