Bolivia 2 Argentina 0: More Messi-less misery for Bauza

The decision was announced less than six hours before kickoff of the match in La Paz and means the five-times world player of the year will play in only one of Argentina's remaining five world cup qualifiers.

Messi was handed a four-match ban for using "insulting words" towards an assistant referee during Thursday's 1-0 win over Chile.

Argentina's Lionel Messi waves during the World Cup 2018 Qualifiers match against Chile at Antonio Liberti Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 23, 2017.

The Barcelona star was also fined 10,000 Swiss Francs (£8,100) for "having directed insulting words" at the official.

Argentina went into last night's match lying in third place in the South American qualifying group, with only the top four guaranteed a place in Russian Federation 2018.

"I find Messi's ban totally excessive", he said. In a 10-country group where four teams progress automatically and another goes to the intercontinental playoffs, Argentina is looking over its shoulder at quality teams in pursuit like Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Ecuador.

Initially, the incident was not included in referee Sandro Ricci's report but was followed up by FIFA after video footage of Messi's insults emerged and they asked both the officials and the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) for their observations.

Despite Messi reportedly feeling down about his suspension, he is said to be positive his team can kick on without him and get positive results in the matches he will miss.

After their victory against Chile last week in qualifiers, Argentina looked to be on a surge to secure a place in the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

Argentina's defeat to Bolivia left them with a battle to qualify for the World Cup in Russian Federation.

The Albiceleste are now in danger of missing the World Cup.

Messi will also miss Argentina's game at Uruguay on August 31, and home games against Venezuela on September 5 and Peru on October 5.

He also led a player media silence in protest at perceived mistreatment of the team.

  • Leroy Wright