Lionel Messi of Argentina have been banned for four international matches by FIFA after finding the player guilty of verbally abusing an assistant referee.
The world governing body issued a statement on its official website confirming its decision after the incident, which occurred as Messi featured against Chile for his country.
The statement read:
The FIFA Disciplinary Committee – in application of articles 77 a) and 108 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC) – has reached a decision in relation to the case of Lionel Messi following an incident that occurred during the match between Argentina and Chile on 23 March 2017 as part of the qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™:
Lionel Messi has been found guilty of violating art. 57 of the FDC for having directed insulting words at an assistant referee.
The Barcelona superstar also received a fine of CHF 10,000, with the ban starting Tuesday as Argentina face Bolivia in World Cup qualification in La Paz.
The game is vital for the South American giants as they hold on to their qualification berth by a narrow margin in the standings.
Messi will miss the majority of the remaining qualification fixtures, and his absence could have severe ramifications on Argentina’s prospects of featuring at Russia 2018.