Lionel Messi received a four match ban from FIFA on Tuesday, following his foul-mouthed tirade towards an assistant referee at the conclusion of Argentina's 1-0 victory over Chile in Buenos Aires.
Four matches out, starting tonight
The Barcelona forward will be banned for Argentina's next four World Cup qualification matches, starting with the match against Bolivia in La Paz this evening.
The matches in question are as follows:
28th March: Bolivia (a)
28th August: Uruguay (a)
5th September: Venezuela (h)
2nd October: Peru (h)
Messi will return for the away match against Ecuador on the 10th October.
Argentina in a precarious position
Messi's ban is particularly significant in the context of Argentina's faltering qualification campaign. La Albiceleste are currently in third place in their qualification group, with the top four placed teams qualifying for the tournament in Russia next year.
Yet Edgardo Bauza's team have stuttered through the process thus far, often rescued by the wizardry of their talisman. His absence could place an already uncertain qualification in to further doubt.
On Wednesday, Barcelona offered unequivocal support to Leo Messi, whom the club consider to be "an exemplary sportsman on and off the pitch".
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