Dubai: It’s a bad news for football fans around the world and specially in the UAE and Gulf countries that FIFA suspended soccer megastar Lionel Messi for four international matches over an incident that took place during a World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Chile on Thursday.
According to world soccer’s governing body, Messi “directed insulting words at an assistant referee.”
Messi will serve the first game of the suspension on Tuesday afternoon when Argentina visits Bolivia in another World Cup qualifier. The team’s captain and all-time leading goal scorer also will sit out Argentina’s next three World Cup qualifiers in August, September and October, returning for the team’s final qualifying match against Ecuador on October 10. Next year, World Cup qualifiers played without Messi, Argentina has amassed just seven of a possible 21 points.
It is reported that Messi shouted profane insults at assistant referee Emerson Carvalho after he was whistled for a foul late in Thursday’s match against Chile. He then refused to shake hands with Carvalho after the game.
This incident was not initially reported by the main referee on the official match report.
“I did not hear any offensive language from Messi or anyone else towards myself. … If I had heard any offensive word, I would have acted in according the rules of the game,” the head referee, Brazilian Sandro Ricci, said in documents from the FIFA inquiry that were obtained by the Argentine newspaper Ole.