World football body FIFA on Tuesday slammed Lionel Messi with suspension for four Argentina matches for swearing at an assistant referee.
Messi was dealt the suspension and a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160) by FIFA’s disciplinary panel.
The Barcelona player was found guilty of “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee” in the World Cup qualifier against Chile last Thursday which Argentina won 1-0 thanks to a penalty he scored.
FIFA said Messi was guilty of “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee”
“This decision is in line with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee’s previous rulings in similar cases.”
Messi will miss Argentina’s next South American qualifying game against Bolivia, scheduled for later Tuesday, with the remainder of the suspension served over his country’s subsequent World Cup qualifiers.
He can return for Argentina’s final qualifier, away to Ecuador on October 10.
Messi and the Argentina federation can appeal against the ban.
FIFA had intervened when the incident was not initially reported by the Brazilian referee after Argentina’s 1-0 win at Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires.
It was judged a red-card offense for Messi, who scored the only goal from a first-half penalty.
Television pictures showed Messi reacting angrily late in the game when the assistant flagged him for a foul. He waved his arms and shouted profane insults at the Brazilian official.
After the game, Messi refused to shake hands with the assistant who had annoyed him.