Lionel Messi banned for four World Cup qualifiers

Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been banned for four international matches by Fifa for verbally abusing an assistant referee in last Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Chile.

It means he misses tonight’s World Cup qualifier in Bolivia and, in total, four of Argentina’s five remaining qualifiers.

They are third in the South American standings with five games left. Four teams qualify directly with the fifth-placed side going into a play-off against a team from Oceania.

Messi scored the winner in last Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Chile in Buenos Aires.

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