Federation Internationale de Football Association hands Lionel Messi 4-Match Ban for Verbally Abusing Referee

He is also out of Argentina's next three World Cup qualifiers.

Argentina is third in the South American standings with five games left.

As well as the ban, the Barcelona forward was ordered to pay a sum of £8,100 for his troubles as well. Bolivia, as Argentine coach Edgardo Bauza predicted, deployed a high press throughout the first half in hopes of exhausting a visiting squad unused to the altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 feet).

Lionel Messi has paid for his potty mouth with a four-match ban.

"Bolivia won well. We must think in what's coming".

"We know this is going to be a fight and we will continue fighting".

However, it will be a battle without the team's captain and top goal scorer.

But his club, Barcelona has come out in defence of their player.

The remainder of the sanction will be served over Argentina's subsequent FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. "You can change your tactics, but Messi can't be replaced". New reports suggest that Diego Maradona pushed for the punishment.

Along with Messi, Bauza also had to cope with other absentees for the match in Bolivia.

"I spoke to someone who works at Federation Internationale de Football Association and he confirmed to me that Maradona pushed for Messi's sanction", a tweet of his, translated to English from Spanish, read.

"We did not have time to work with someone else".

Instead, Messi is maintaining that he swore "to the air" and not at the man himself, though it is unlikely that many will buy that as an excuse. Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay are all within four points of that final spot with four matches to play. Argentina have 22 points, one fewer than Chile, two behind Colombia and eight in arrears to group leaders Brazil. "Messi has never done that before, not with the national team or with Barcelona".

If Argentina needs inspiration for the long months ahead, it could always look to its old rival, Brazil. The team was the runner-up in the 2014 World Cup and the Copa Amrica in 2015 and 2016.

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"I'm not bothered by anything, nobody, or what they say".

  • Julie Sanders