FIFA has lifted its suspension of Barcelona star, Lionel Messi for four international matches after an appeal by the Argentine Football Association, world football’s governing body has announced.
Lionel Messi’s four-match international suspension has been overturned, FIFA has announced.
Messi was suspended for insulting a match official during Argentina’s 1-0 win over Chile in March. The incident was not punished during the game and the official, a Brazilian, said he did not realise at the time that Messi was swearing at him.
The Barcelona player missed the subsequent 2018 World Cup qualifier, a 2-0 defeat away to Bolivia, and was set to sit out an away game in Uruguay and home matches against Venezuela and Peru.
However, FIFA upheld an appeal from the Argentine FA and Messi is now free to play Argentina’s remaining games.
“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,” read a statement on FIFA’s website.
“Following a hearing which took place in Zurich on 4 May 2017, the Appeal Committee has set aside the decision taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on 28 March 2017, which, in application of art. 77 a) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC), had found Lionel Messi guilty of infringing art. 57 of the FDC for having directed insulting words at an assistant referee.
“Despite the fact that the FIFA Appeal Committee considered Lionel Messi’s behaviour as reproachable, the former concluded that the evidence available was not sufficient to establish to the appropriate standard, i.e. to the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee, that art. 77 a) of the FDC, according to which the Disciplinary Committee is responsible for sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention, could be applied.”
Argentina are fifth in the 10-team South American group with 22 points from 14 games, two ahead of Ecuador and four ahead of Peru.