Argentina's Lionel Messi (C) is marked by Chile's Paulo Diaz during their Copa America third-place match in Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 6, 2019. /VCG Photo
Argentina captain Lionel Messi has been banned for one competitive match for his altercation with Chile's Gary Medel in the Copa America third-place playoff earlier this month. The Barcelona forward also has to pay a 1,500 U.S.-dollar fine for his claim that the tournament was influenced by corruption, according to South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL). CONMEBOL said on Tuesday that Messi’s comments were “unacceptable” but backed down from imposing a tougher sanction on the five-time world player of the year. The decision means that Messi will miss Argentina's first 2022 World Cup qualifier next March.
Argentina's Lionel Messi leaves the field after he was shown a red card during the Copa America third-place match in Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 6, 2019. /VCG Photo
The 32-year-old and Medel were both sent off for an altercation in which the latter appeared to headbutt his opponent during the first half of Argentina's 2-1 win in Sao Paulo. Earlier, Messi alleged that the tournament had been fixed in favor of the hosts Brazil, who beat Argentina 2-0 in a controversial semi-final on their way to claiming the title. Messi did not attend the ceremony to pick up his medal either. CONMEBOL said the penalties could not be appealed.
(With input from Reuters and Xinhua)
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