Lionel Messi will be banned from playing 4 games for the Argentine national team for insulting the referee in the 1-0 win over Chile.
This, despite the referees not reporting it. Rather it was based on video review.
But the worst part of it was how it was handled: namely, not telling Argentina until hours before kickoff. What’s more, FIFA did not tell the Argentine federation directly. Instead, FIFA published the announcement on their website.
According to a report in Sport, Messi was angered, surprised, and saddened by the decision. He had traveled to La Paz thinking he would play against Bolivia. He was hurt but not defeated, as the team tried to rally in time for the important World Cup qualifying match.
Regardless of whether the punishment was appropriate, not telling the player until hours before kickoff is outrageous. Messi should be in Barcelona already, not in La Paz waking up to find out he won’t be playing.
Jorge Miadosqui, secretary of the Argentine federation, said he was confident the ban would be reduced. He blasted FIFA for the way it was handled, saying “they cut our legs off.”
There are many now wondering whether there is an element of South American football politics at work here, and especially if the Argentine FA has lost clout after the death of their former chief, Julio Grondona.