Argentina’s Lionel Messi was banned for three months from international matches and fined $50,000 on Friday after accusing South America’s governing body for football of “corruption” during the Copa America.
Messi criticised the officiating and members of CONMEBOL last month following Argentina’s semifinal loss to Brazil and after the third-place match against Chile, but later apologised for his statements.
CONMEBOL has given Messi and the Argentine Football Association seven days to appeal the sanctions. Argentina are due to face Chile in a friendly match in Los Angeles on Sept. 5, followed by another friendly with Mexico in San Antonio five days later.
Messi, who is due to return Nov. 3, will also miss the friendly against host Germany on Oct. 9 in Dortmund. Messi is already suspended from the first match of the South American World Cup qualifiers in March because of the red card he received against Chile in an incident with Gary Medel.
Neither Messi nor Argentina’s soccer association have made comments about CONMEBOL’s decisions. Messi avoided the Copa America medal ceremony in protest and later said Argentina “shouldn’t take part in this corruption.”
The 32-year-old also said the tournament was set up for hosts Brazil to win and had complained about Copa America refereeing after Argentina’s 2-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals. When asked if he feared being suspended for his comments, he said “the truth needed to be told.”