Argentina forward Lionel Messi will be eligible to represent his country in their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers after the suspension handed to him for swearing at an assistant referee was overturned by FIFA.
Back in March, Messi was fined 10,000 Swiss Francs and granted a four-match international ban after he “directed insulting words” at an official during the closing stages of their 1-0 victory over Chile. Footage of the incident shows Messi aiming the classic “concha de tu madre” (“motherfucker”) slur towards linesman Marcelo Vangasse, who had signalled for a foul against the player.
The suspension meant Messi was unable to feature in Argentina`s subsequent 2-0 defeat to Bolivia, however he will now be available for the national side`s crucial upcoming fixtures against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru.
A statement from world football`s governing body, FIFA, read: “The FIFA appeal committee has upheld the appeal lodged by the Argentinian Football Association, on behalf of the player Lionel Messi, against the decision taken by the Fifa disciplinary committee, lifting the sanctions imposed on him as a result.”
Despite the repeal, FIFA maintained that they “considered Messi`s behaviour as reproachable” but conceded that “the evidence available was not sufficient to establish” any significant wrongdoing on Messi`s part – which seems strange, considering that there is literally a video of what happened.
Nevertheless, the statement went on to stress “the importance of always showing respect to the match officials” and that “any unsporting conduct that may be contrary to the principles of fair play cannot be accepted.”
The lifting of the suspension will come as welcome news to Argentine football fans, who hope to see their side move within the top four automatic qualification places for next year`s World Cup in Russia.