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Lionel Messi wins appeal, FIFA lifts international ban on Argentine footballer

Lionel Messi’s four-game ban from international matches imposed for abusing an assistant referee was lifted by FIFA after they decided that there was not enough evidence to support the punishment.

football Updated: May 05, 2017 19:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Lionel Messi,Lionel Messi Ban,Lionel Messi FIFA
Lionel Messi will be available for Argentina’s next World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on August 31.(Reuters)

FIFA has decided to lift Argentina forward Lionel Messi’s four-match international ban after the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) successfully appealed against the suspension.

The FC Barcelona footballer was handed the punishment for verbally abusing a match official during his country’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Chile.

READ | Lionel Messi face Bolivia suspension after verbally abusing match official

The Fifa statement read: “The FIFA Appeal Committee has upheld the appeal lodged by the Argentinian Football Association, on behalf of the player Lionel Messi, against the decision taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, lifting the sanctions imposed on him as a result.

“Following a hearing which took place in Zurich on 4 May 2017, the Appeal Committee has set aside the decision taken by the Fifa Disciplinary Committee on 28 March 2017, which, in application of art. 77 a) of the Fifa Disciplinary Code (FDC), had found Lionel Messi guilty of infringing art. 57 of the FDC for having directed insulting words at an assistant referee.

“Despite the fact that the Fifa Appeal Committee considered Lionel Messi’s behaviour as reproachable, the former concluded that the evidence available was not sufficient to establish to the appropriate standard, i.e. to the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee, that art. 77 a) of the FDC, according to which the Disciplinary Committee is responsible for sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention, could be applied.

READ | Lionel Messi’s FIFA ban: It’s ‘unfair and disproportionate’, say Barcelona

“The Appeal Committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football and any unsporting conduct that may be contrary to the principles of fair play cannot be accepted.

“In view of the above decision, the suspension for four matches imposed on Lionel Messi, which entered into force on 28 March 2017, and the fine of CHF 10,000 have been lifted.”

Messi already served one match of the ban that was imposed when the FIFA disciplinary committee gave its ruling hours before Argentina’s 2-0 loss in Bolivia in March.

Argentina’s next World Cup qualifier is at Uruguay on August 31.

(With inputs from AP)

First Published: May 05, 2017 18:57 IST