-Lionel Messi has been banned for directing ‘directed insulting words at an assistant referee in Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Chile last Thursday
– The ban only applies to Argentina’s World Cup qualifying matches
– The Barcelona forward has also been fined £8,100 for his actions
– Argentina are going to appeal against Messi’s four-game sanction
– He was in the stands to watch his country lose 2-0 to Bolivia on Tuesday
Lionel Messi was banned for four World Cup qualifying matches after a foul-mouthed rant at a linesman.Messi was suspended after his outburst during last week’s 1-0 win over Chile. He misses four of Argentina’s final five qualifiers — the first of which saw them slump to a 2-0 defeat in Bolivia on Tuesday night.
He only discovered his fate six hours before Argentina kicked off that crucial game.
The Barcelona genius and five-time Ballon d’Or winner was also given a fine of around £8,100.Messi said ‘la concha de tu madre’, which translates as ‘your mother’s ****’ — a common cursing phrase in Argentina — to Brazilian linesman Emerson Augusto do Carvalho at the end of the match after being harried and fouled by Chile’s Jean Beausejour.
The official patted him on the head and tried to calm him down but Messi continued ranting.
Carvalho said later he did not understand at the time what Messi was saying.
‘I only realised he was swearing afterwards on reading the press,’ he said.
The officials had not originally filed a complaint but revised their report to FIFA on Monday.
Argentina say they will appeal but Messi’s reputation as the boy next door, in contrast to the occasionally snarling Cristiano Ronaldo, has taken a severe dent.
Argentina team secretary Jorge Miadosqui said: ‘We are surprised at the decision. We believe that the sanction can be lowered. Messi is sad, which we all are.’
As well as missing Tuesday night’s match, Messi will also be absent for an away game against Luis Suarez’s Uruguay in August and home matches against Venezuela and Peru in September and October.
It is a major blow for Argentina, whose spot at next year’s tournament in Russia is far from assured.
They went into the clash with Bolivia third in the 10-nation table, and defeat saw them drop to fifth — outside the automatic qualification spots.
Messi may have initially welcomed missing the game in Bolivia, which was at a notoriously tricky venue. The Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz is 12,000ft above sea level, and in 2013, Messi was sick on the pitch.
But Argentina certainly missed him, and paid the price for squandering early chances when Juan Carlos Arce headed the hosts ahead in the 31st minute. It got worse seven minutes into the second half, when a move involving Arce was finished emphatically by Marcelo Moreno.