Lionel Messi: Argentina forward’s ban lifted after appeal to Fifa

Lionel Messi is free to represent Argentina in their World Cup qualifiers after his four-match international ban was overturned on appeal.

The 29-year-old Barcelona forward was suspended for directing “insulting words” at an assistant referee during a 1-0 win over Chile in March.

He missed one match – Argentina’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss to Bolivia..

A Fifa appeal committee said while his behaviour was “reproachable”, the evidence was not sufficient.

He will now be available for matches against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru as Argentina fight to secure a place at next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.

A fine of 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,800) was also lifted.

During the Chile game, Messi was caught on camera venting his anger at an assistant who signalled he had committed a foul.

He was not shown a card at the time.

The Fifa appeal committee concluded “the evidence available was not sufficient to establish” an infringement had occurred.

“The appeal committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football and any unsporting conduct that may be contrary to the principles of fair play cannot be accepted,” it said in a statement.

Argentina World Cup qualifiers

Messi had faced missing Argentina’s next three qualifiers, but will now be available for all four of their remaining four matches.

Argentina are fifth in their group of 10, with the top four qualifying automatically and the fifth team going into a play-off.

31 August – Uruguay away

5 September – Venezuela home

5 October – Peru home

10 October – Ecuador away

BBC

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