The Argentina star was banned for three months from playing for his national team and fined $50,000 on Friday by CONMEBOL after he heavily criticized the South American football governing body during the Copa America.
Messi has accused CONMBEL of “corruption” after he was sent off against Chile during the third-place play-off during the tournament in Brazil, which ended last month.
He was angered by two incidents during the June-July Copa hosted by bitter rivals Brazil. Agentina were denied two penalty claims in their 2-0 semi-final defeat to the host, after which Messi claimed Brazil were “managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days.”
Which he was harshly dismissed in the next game, which Argentina went on to win 2-1, he couldn’t contain his anger. “Corruption and the referees are preventing people from enjoying the football and they are running in a bit,” Messi said.
The CONMEBOL statement on its website didn’t specify why Messi was being punished but said it was related to articles 7.1 and 7.2 of its disciplinary regulations. One such clause mentions “breaching the decisions, directives or orders of the judicial bodies.”
The ban means that Messi will miss a handful of friendly matches as Agentina’s next competitive fixture is not until the South American Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar begin in March. But he will be free again to play for his country again in November.