Lionel Messi has been banned from playing for his country for three months following comments he made claiming the Copa America was ‘corrupt’.The Barcelona forward also incurred a $50,000 fine from CONMEBOL, the South American continent’s governing body.Although he has seven days in which to appeal the decision, as things stand Messi will miss Argentina’s upcoming friendlies with Chile, Mexico and Germany in September and October.The ban is fairly inconsequential since Messi will not miss any games of real importance. Argentina’s qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup gets underway only in March 2020.The AFA also received a rebuff from CONMEBOL for complaining about ‘serious and gross refereeing errors’ following their 0-2 loss to Brazil in the semi-finals of the Copa.CONMEBOL said accusations questioning the integrity of the Copa America were ‘unfounded’ and ‘represent a lack of respect’.Messi received only his second-ever red card, the first came after only 44 seconds of his international debut against Hungary in July 2005, following a clash with Gary Medel, in the 3rd/4th Play-off match against Chile in Sao Paulo. Medel also received his marching orders.It led Messi to say, ”We don’t have to be part of this corruption. 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.”
The only previous time Messi saw red. Hernan Crespo consoles the youngster after he’d received a red card 44 seconds into his international debut for Argentina in Budapest, July 2005.
Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images