The Argentine star will be absent from his national team until November for the outburst last month
Lionel Messi has been suspended from Argentina’s next three matches and given a $50,000 (£41,000) by CONMEBOL for his controversial comments made during the Copa America.
The Barcelona superstar accused South America’s football governing body of corruption following the red card he received in Argentina’s 2-1 third-place playoff win against Chile.
Messi will miss friendly matches against Chile (September 5), Mexico (September 10) and Germany (October 10) – in addition to the one-match World Cup qualifying ban for being sent off.
Argentina managed to earn a degree of revenge against Chile, after losing the previous two Copa America finals against them.
Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala scored but Messi saw red after just 37 minutes, after appearing to aim a headbutt at Gary Medel during an altercation with the Chile midfielder. Medel was also shown a straight red card.
It had seemed that the one-game suspension for the red would be all Messi was given, though CONMEBOL did release a statement describing his comments as “unacceptable” and representing “a lack of respect”.
Messi isn’t a player used to being suspended, having never been sent off in a competitive game for his club Barcelona.
He was actually sent off on his debut for Argentina. As an 18-year-old, he came off the bench against Hungary only to be shown red 90 seconds later for a perceived elbow as he attempted to hold of the challenge of a defender.
With their star man now 32, Argentina’s upcoming games will give manager Lionel Scaloni the opportunity to experiment with his tactics without being concerned about getting the best from Messi.
He has retired from international football in the past, but the next time is likely to be permanent.
For now, he will be focusing on the new season with Barcelona and building a rapport with new strike partner Antoine Griezmann.
Barca are looking to defend their La Liga crown, and will be hoping to banish some ghosts in Europe after two capitulations in the last two seasons in the Champions League knockout stages.
They have friendly games with Arsenal and Napoli to get through first, before starting the league season with a trip to Athletic club on August 16. They host Real Betis in their first home game of the campaign the following weekend.
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