Argentina will be able to field their talisman Lionel Messi in the upcoming qualifiers, after the ban he was under is now lifted.
The Barcelona superstar, who is the front-runner for the Golden Boot this season, has enjoyed fine form for the Catalan Giants, but has not been at his best for his country. He was frustrated with his side’s performance in a qualifier against Chile, and was seen getting involved in an altercation with one of the assistant referees.
Messi was caught ‘directing insults’ at the referee, which saw him pick up a four-match ban, one of which he has already fulfilled.
The 29-year old missed his side’s 2-0 loss against Bolivia in the last international break, but he will now be available for the rest of their campaign.
Messi will be ready to represent his country for upcoming matches against Uruguay, Venezuela, and Peru, as Argentina fight for a place at next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
Though he was not shown a card during the game against Chile, Messi was later banned after video evidence showed a breach of conduct. However, a Fifa appeal committee said while his behaviour was “reproachable,” the evidence was not sufficient.
It is understood that a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,800) was also lifted.
The Fifa appeal committee concluded in a statement: “The evidence available was not sufficient to establish an infringement had occurred.
“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.”
Argentina are fifth in their group of 10, and quickly need to climb up the ladder if they are to qualify for Russia.
Written by Aakarsh Bommakanti
A scholar in Cricket, an amateur in Football, a fanatic of both. Striving to learn by the day and writing to get closer to his first love, Liverpool Football Club. Work also featured by the4thofficial, Soccersouls, Sportswiki, Faceoffootball, Rousing the Kop.