March 29: FIFA announced Tuesday that it suspended soccer megastar Lionel Messi for four international matches over an incident that took place during a World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Chile on Thursday. According to world soccer’s governing body, Messi “directed insulting words at an assistant referee.”
The team’s captain and all-time leading goal scorer also will sit out Argentina’s next four World Cup qualifiers in August, September and October including today’s qualifier against Bolivia), returning for the team’s final qualifying match against Ecuador on Oct. 10. In 2018 World Cup qualifiers played without Messi, Argentina has amassed just seven of a possible 21 points.
According to ESPNFC, Messi shouted profane insults at assistant referee Emerson Carvalho after he was whistled for a foul late in Thursday’s match against Chile. He then refused to shake hands with Carvalho after the game.
The incident was not initially reported by the main referee on the official match report.
“I did not hear any offensive language from Messi or anyone else towards myself. … If I had heard any offensive word, I would have acted in according the rules of the game,” the head referee, Brazilian Sandro Ricci, said in documents from the FIFA inquiry that were obtained by the Argentine newspaper Ole. Nevertheless, it was judged a red-card offense.
An Argentine soccer official said the team will appeal the ruling — saying there is a precedent that suggests the penalty could be reduced — and described Messi as “beaten and sad” over the news.THE WASHINGTON POST