Lionel Messi will not feature for Argentina again this year after receiving a three-month suspension and a £41,000 fine following his controversial comments about Copa America.
The Barcelona star fuelled the fire after Argentina won their third-place play-off against Chile, accusing South American governing body CONMEBOL of being ‘corrupt’. As a result, he was initially given a one-match ban but now a more severe punishment has been handed out for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Messi was shown a straight red card against Chile after clashing with Gary Medel at the start of July in Brazil.
Following the highly-charged game, the 32-year-old refused to be on the pitch for the medal ceremony.
And when asked why he didn’t show his face, Messi told reporters: ‘There is no doubt, the whole thing is set up for Brazil. ‘I did not want to be part of this corruption, we shouldn’t have to be part of this disrespect we suffered during the Copa America.
‘We could have gone further but we weren’t allowed into the final.
Corruption, referees and all the rest stopped people from enjoying the football.
‘I always tell the truth and I’m honest, that is what keeps me calm if what I say has repercussions that is not my business.’ Messi and his Argentine team-mates were defeated 2-0 by hosts Brazil in the semi-final stage.
CONMEBOL hit back at him straight away with an official statement describing his comments as ‘unacceptable’ and they have now acted by punishing him even further.