Lionel Messi: Argentina star banned for four matches

Messi was forced to sit out Argentina's South American qualifying game against Bolivia on Tuesday, where his team crashed to a 2-0 defeat, dealing a fresh blow to their World Cup qualification campaign.

In this photo taken Thursday March 23, 2017 Argentina's Lionel Messi argues assistant referee Emerson Augusto de Carvalho during a World Cup qualifying match against Chile in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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

According to reports, FIFA did not communicate the suspension with the Argentine Football Association (AFA) ahead of breaking the news on their website just six hours before the Albiceleste's clash with Bolivia on Tuesday night.

The Spanish club went on to reiterate its unwavering support for its all-time record scorer, calling him "an exemplary player in terms of conduct, both on and off the pitch".

The coach also said "it is strange" that Messi's ban was decided so quickly.

He told Ole: "We will appeal the decision because it's unjust and arbitrary".

Messi will also miss Argentina s qualifiers in Uruguay on August 31, at home to Venezuela on September 5 and against Peru on October 5.

Argentina has announced plans to appeal the decision, voicing particular outrage at the timing of the announcement, falling days after the Chile game and only hours before the match in Bolivia.

It was Brazil's eighth consecutive win in qualifying and, combined with Peru's 2-1 win over Uruguay in a later game, ensured they would finish the 10-nation group in the top four, guaranteeing them a berth at the Russian Federation finals.

The five-time Ballon d'Or victor was also fined 10,000 United States dollars by the FIFA disciplinary committee, the world football governing body said on Tuesday. Argentina went on to lose and are now fifth in the race to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

Messi is unsurprisingly Argentina's top scorer, and they now face a tough trip to historic rivals Uruguay in their next qualifier, without him. The top four finishers in South America automatically qualify for next years finals in Russian Federation.

"Someone should explain to Messi that he is not responsible for making Argentina win but rather to help Argentina play better".

  • Leroy Wright