Argentine captain suspended and fined $50,000 for alleging bias at Copa America, South American football body says.
Footballer Lionel Messi has been suspended from playing international matches for Argentina for three months after alleging corruption at the Copa America last month.
South American football body CONMEBOL also handed Messi a $50,000 fine for his comments after Argentina’s 2-1 win against Chile in the third-place playoff of the tournament in Brazil in July.
Messi, Argentina’s captain, was red carded for only the second time in his career during the Chile match in Sao Paulo following a scuffle with Gary Medel, who was also sent off.
Messi avoided the medal ceremony in protest and later said Argentina “shouldn’t take part in this corruption”.
The Argentinian also said the tournament was set for hosts Brazil, who beat Argentina in the semi-finals, to win.
He had also complained against Copa America refereeing after Argentina’s 0-2 loss to Brazil in the semifinals.
The governing body at the time called the accusations “groundless” and “unacceptable.”
Messi and Argentina still have one week to appeal the decision, which stops the striker from playing in four friendlies this year.
The 32-year-old, who also captains FC Barcelona, will not play for Argentina in September against Chile and Mexico, or in another two games in October.
Neither Messi nor Argentina’s football association has made comments about CONMEBOL’s decision.
Messi has already been fined $1,500 and is suspended from the first match of the South American World Cup qualifiers next March, for his Copa America red card.
When asked if he feared being suspended for his comments, he said: “The truth needed to be told.”
Messi later sent an apology to CONMEBOL for his remarks.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA