The South American Football Federation, known as CONMEBOL, suspended Lionel Messi from international duties, on Friday, for three months. The star footballer was handed over his suspension for his comments on corruption during the recently-concluded Copa America. The Latin American governing body further fined the player an amount of USD 50,000.
The suspension will see Messi missing four friendlies this year. In September he will be out of action against Chile and Mexico, while in October he will not feature against Germany and another adversary to be picked. However, Messi and Argentina’s football federation can still appeal against the decision but they are yet to comment on the issue.
After Argentina’s semifinal defeat against Brazil in this year’s Copa America, the 32-year-old had claimed that the tournament was set up for Brazil to win. The match had seen some poor decisions against Messi & Co. which eventually caused Brazil’s victory. The Argentine captain was furious after the referee turned down two penalty appeal by his team.
While the replaying visuals had shown clear foul of the visiting players in the Brazilian box, the referee did not even consider going for the VAR. “There is no doubt, the whole thing is set up for Brazil. I hope the VAR and referees don’t play any part in the final and that Peru can compete but it looks tough to me,” Messi was quoted as saying after the match.
In the third-place playoff against Chile, Messi was sent off the ground for just the second time in his career which further infuriated the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. After Argentina defeated their opponents 2-1, Messi avoided the presentation ceremony.
He had said, “I did not want to be part of this corruption, we shouldn’t have to be part of this disrespect we suffered during the Copa America. We could have gone further but we weren’t allowed into the final. Corruption, referees and all the rest stopped people from enjoying the football.”
Later, on being asked if he feared suspension, Messi had said “the truth needed to be told”. However, the Argentine captain had sent an apology to CONMEBOL for his remarks.