Argentina slam Federation Internationale de Football Association after Lionel Messi hit with four-game suspension

Lionel Messi Argentina star banned for four matches

A statement from FIFA read: "Footballer Lionel Messi has been found guilty of violating article 57 of the Federation Internationale de Football Association disciplinary code for having directed insulting words at an assistant referee". Argentina went on to lose and are now fifth in the race to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

BBC reports that with four games remaining of World Cup qualifying, Colombia climbed above Argentina and Uruguay into second as they beat Ecuador 2-0 with goals from James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado.

Messi has enjoyed a stunning season at club level, scoring 41 goals in 40 games, with Barca now second in La Liga, two points behind Real Madrid, who have played a game less. The Barcelona forward will be eligible again when Argentina visit Ecuador on October 10.

Messi will miss Argentina's next South American qualifying game against Bolivia, scheduled for later on Tuesday, with the remainder of the suspension served over his country's subsequent World Cup qualifiers.

Argentina won 1-0 after Messi scored with a first-half penalty at the vibrant Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires, but he lost his cool in the closing minutes. He still was still smouldering at the end of the match and refused to shake Van Gasse's hand.

National team secretary Jorge Miadosqui said: "We are surprised by the decision that has been taken". "But we're left angry and sad because (Messi) will not be with the team".

But Messi will be available for Argentina's blockbuster friendly against Brazil in Melbourne; his suspension only applies to World Cup qualifiers.

Argentina's defeat to Bolivia last night leaves their qualification for next year's World Cup in jeopardy. "If he's suspended for two, three, four games they are in real trouble of failing to qualify".

Despite video evidence showing that Messi was looking at the linesman while making those comments, the Argentine said that wasn't the case.

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