By Kunle Adedoyin
Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona and Argentina captain, has been banned from international football for three months by the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) following his claim the Copa America was corrupt.
July 6, 2019 Argentina’s Lionel Messi gestures during the Copa America football tournament third-place match against Chile at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil. – The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) on July 23, 2019 suspended Argentine star Lionel Messi for the next official match of the Argentine team and fined him with $ 1,500 for the expulsion in the Brazil 2019 Copa America third-place match against Chile, the organization said. (Photo by Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP)
The 32-year-old forward was sent off during Argentina’s 2-1 third-place play-off defeat of Chile and he later said the competition was fixed for hosts Brazil.
He has also been fined about N18 million (about 50,000 dollars or 41,121 pounds).
Messi has seven days to appeal the decision to suspend him, as well as the fine. The ban means Messi will miss Argentina’s upcoming friendly matches against Chile, Mexico and Germany in September and October.
The ban will however not disrupt Argentina’s qualifying campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as the qualifiers begins in March 2020.
After Argentina’s 2-0 semi-final defeat by hosts Brazil, the Argentine Football Association had complained about “serious and gross refereeing errors”.
Messi was shown a red card in the 37th minute against Chile, following a clash with Gary Medel, who was also dismissed.
“We don’t have to be part of this corruption,” Messi had said.
“They have showed us a lack of respect throughout this tournament.
“Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don’t allow people to enjoy football, they ruined it a bit.”
CONMEBOL had responded by saying accusations questioning the integrity of the Copa America were “unfounded” and “represent a lack of respect”.