FIFA bans Messi four games for his in­sults

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Gra­ham Dun­bar

geneva» Lionel Messi is banned from Ar­gentina’s next four World Cup qual­i­fy­ing games, deal­ing a blow to a cam­paign by the 2014 run­ner-up that has stut­tered with­out him.

Messi’s sus­pen­sion for “hav­ing di­rected in­sult­ing words at an as­sis­tant ref­eree” dur­ing a home qual­i­fier last week against Chile started Tuesday, shortly be­fore his team­mates played Bo­livia in La Paz.

With­out Messi, Ar­gentina went on to lose the qual­i­fier 2-0.

The five-time FIFA player of the year can ap­peal to FIFA, but is on track to re­turn for Ar­gentina’s fi­nal match in the 10-team South Amer­i­can qual­i­fy­ing group, host­ing Ecuador on Oct. 10.

“We have to ap­peal this de­ci­sion, we’ll see how it goes,” said Jorge Mi­a­dosqui, Ar­gentina’s na­tional teams direc­tor. “But we’re left an­gry and sad be­cause (Messi) will not be with the team.”

Ar­gentina has re­lied on its cap­tain Messi to move up to third place in a group where the top four qual­ify for the tour­na­ment in Rus­sia. The fifth­place team will en­ters a play­off in Novem­ber, likely against New Zealand.

Messi has scored in four qual­i­fiers so far, with Ar­gentina go­ing on to win ev­ery game. With­out him, though, Ar­gentina has earned only seven points out of a pos­si­ble 24.

The 1978 and 1986 world cham­pion is now only two points ahead of sixth place, cur­rently held by Chile, which was play­ing Venezuela later on Tuesday.

Ar­gentina’s next match is away to Uruguay on Aug. 31. Then it has two home games against strug­gling sides: Venezuela on Sept. 5 and Peru on Oct. 5.

It was close to a must-win match last Thursday when Ar­gentina hosted Chile, the team it lost to in the Copa Amer­ica fi­nals of 2015 and 2016

Ar­gentina won 1-0 af­ter Messi scored with a first-half penalty at the vi­brant Mon­u­men­tal Sta­dium in Buenos Aires, but he lost his cool in the clos­ing min­utes.

Messi re­acted an­grily when a de­ci­sion went against him and aimed a vol­ley of pro­fane abuse at the as­sis­tant. He re­fused to shake hands with the of­fi­cial af­ter the match.

FIFA could in­ter­vene as the in­ci­dent was not ini­tially re­ported by the Brazil­ian ref­eree. It was judged a red-card of­fense for Messi.

“This de­ci­sion is in line with the FIFA Dis­ci­plinary Com­mit­tee’s pre­vi­ous rul­ings in sim­i­lar cases,” said the world soc­cer body, which also fined Messi 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160).

Messi and the Ar­gen­tine soc­cer fed­er­a­tion can chal­lenge the ban at FIFA’s ap­peals com­mit­tee. It rarely over­turns dis­ci­plinary rul­ings, though it could re­duce the num­ber of games he must miss.

A sub­se­quent ap­peal does not cur­rently seem pos­si­ble to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport. FIFA’s le­gal statutes do not grant ju­ris­dic­tion to the Swiss-based CAS in “ap­peals aris­ing from ... sus­pen­sions of up to four matches.”

The Messi ban adds fur­ther tur­moil to the em­bat­tled Ar­gentina soc­cer fed­er­a­tion, which is cur­rently be­ing run by an emer­gency com­mit­tee ap­pointed by FIFA last June.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.