Lionel Messi will miss Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against Bolivia after being slapped with a four-game ban for a foul-mouthed rant at a match official. The decision was communicated to the Argentine Football Association just hours before their match in La Paz on Tuesday evening.
It followed an incident in the Albiceleste’s 1-0 victory over Chile in which Messi was found to have used abusive language towards an assistant referee. The Barcelona star has been fined 10,000 Swiss francs (£8,100) and will also miss World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru before returning for the final match against Ecuador.
“This decision reflects the consistent case law that the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has applied in previous and similar cases,” a FIFA statement reads.
Four South American teams are guaranteed a place at the finals and a fifth can also progress by winning an intercontinental play-off tie against a team from Oceania.Argentina currently sit third in the regional table but are only two points ahead of Chile, who are the first team out of the qualifying spots in sixth.