ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Soccer body CONMEBOL suspended Lionel Messi from international matches with Argentina for three months because of accusations of corruption he made at the latest Copa América.
The South American body also said Friday that it fined the superstar in $50,000 for his comments after Argentina’s 2-1 win against Chile in the third-place playoff of the tournament in July.
Messi and Argentina can still appeal the decision, which stops the striker from playing in four friendlies this year.
The 32-year-old will not play for Argentina matches in September against Chile and Mexico, plus another two in October versus Germany and another adversary to be picked.
Neither Messi nor Argentina’s soccer association have made comments about CONMEBOL’s decision.
Messi is already suspended from the first match of the South American World Cup qualifiers next March because of the apparently undeserved red card he received against Chile.
The Argentine was sent off for only the second time in his career after a shoving match with Chile midfielder Gary Medel, who also was ejected.
Messi avoided the medal ceremony in protest and later said Argentina “shouldn’t take part in this corruption.”
The Argentinian also said the tournament was set for hosts Brazil to win.
Messi had already complained against Copa América refereeing after Argentina’s 2-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals.
When asked if he feared being suspended for his comments, he said “the truth needed to be told.” Messi later sent an apology to CONMEBOL for his remarks.