FIFA bans Lionel Messi for 4 World Cup qualifying games

FIFA says Messi was banned for verbally abusing an assistant referee during a home qualifier against Chile on Thursday.

28 March 2017 | 17:39

Source: Associated Press

  • Source: Associated Press
  • Last update: 28 March 2017 | 17:39

Argentina’s Lionel Messi leaves the pitch after a 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying soccer match between Argentina and Chile at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday March 23, 2017. Argentina won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

ZURICH: Lionel Messi has been banned from Argentina's next four World Cup qualifiers, starting with Tuesday's game in Bolivia.

FIFA says Messi was banned for verbally abusing an assistant referee during a home qualifier against Chile on Thursday.

FIFA intervened when the incident was not initially reported by the Brazilian referee after Argentina's 1-0 win at Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires.

It was judged a red-card offense for Messi, who scored the only goal from a first-half penalty.

Television pictures showed Messi reacting angrily late in the game when the assistant flagged him for a foul. He waved his arms and shouted profane insults at the Brazilian official.

After the game, Messi refused to shake hands with the assistant who had annoyed him.

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