After his controversial comments at the Copa America on the standard of officiating, Lionel Messi will not feature for Argentina for the next three months.
The 32-year-old saw the competition come to a disappointing end as the Albiceleste suffered defeat to Brazil in the semi-finals before beating Chile in the third-place playoff game.
With emotions running high, he slammed the level of refereeing and raised question marks over possible corruption after being sent off in the latter outing after his initial criticism.
“We don’t need to be part of the corruption that we’ve suffered at this tournament,” Messi said, as quoted by Sky Sports. “Maybe what I said recently had an impact.
“What’s important is that the team finished well in the tournament. Maybe this was ordered and I ended up suffering because of what I said.”
Unsurprisingly, that hasn’t gone down well with the governing body, and as reported by ESPN, CONMEBOL have banned Messi for three months from international football and fined him $50,000.
That in turn will likely see him miss clashes with Chile, Mexico and Germany during that timeframe, although there is a window of opportunity over the next seven days to raise an appeal.
Time will tell if Messi and Argentina choose to do so or not, but ultimately given the severity of his comments, it seems unlikely that he will be successful regardless of whether or not he later apologised for his accusations.
Instead, his focus will now likely switch to August 16 when Barcelona kick-start their La Liga campaign with a trip to Athletic Bilbao, and the Catalan giants will arguably be slightly relieved over the disciplinary action as it will see Messi avoid early travelling and further game time in the early part of the season which in turn will allow him to focus on their pursuit of major honours again this year.