Lionel Messi avoids ban for Argentina ahead of World Cup qualifiers 1

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Lionel Messi has avoided a ban for the Argentina national side after being awarded a red card back in 2019.

Lionel Messi avoids ban for Argentina ahead of World Cup qualifiers 2

The Barcelona forward was given his marching orders controversially last year in June in a Copa America third-place play-off against Chile and was handed a one-game ban.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) stated that Messi will have to miss a competitive match to serve his ban, as Argentina played friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay later that year.

Lionel Messi avoids ban for Argentina ahead of World Cup qualifiers 3

Set to play in World Cup qualifiers next month against Bolivia and Ecuador, Argentina confirmed that Messi’s ban had been lifted and he would be eligible for selection.

They managed to overturn the decision by claiming that the statute of limitations on the ban had expired.

Messi saw red inside the first-half of their third-place play-off with Chile after a collision with midfielder Gary Medel that saw both players take an early shower.

Despite not having their star talisman on the pitch, they went on to win the match 2-1 as Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala scored for Argentina.

Lionel Messi avoids ban for Argentina ahead of World Cup qualifiers 4

Messi had some choice words after the red card as he implied that officials were rigging the tournament in Brazil’s favour.

‘There is no doubt, the whole thing is set up for Brazil,’ he said. ‘I hope the VAR and referees don’t play any part in the final and that Peru can compete but it looks tough to me.

‘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.

Lionel Messi avoids ban for Argentina ahead of World Cup qualifiers 5

‘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.

‘I think that what happened is because of what I said [against Brazil]. What I said last time perhaps came back to haunt me.’

It’s been a rollercoaster few weeks for Messi, who has recently taken a u-turn on his potential exit from the Nou Camp following a stand off with new Barca boss Ronald Koeman.

 

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