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Lionel Messi will miss four international friendlies after a lengthy ban from CONMEBOL. The Argentine captain accused the South American soccer governing body of "corruption" during this year's Copa America.
South American soccer body CONMEBOL has handed Argentine superstar Lionel Messi a three-month ban and a $50,000 (€45,000) fine after he accused the confederation of "corruption" during this year's Copa America tournament in Brazil.
The ban will prevent the Barcelona forward from participating in four international friendlies in September and October, including an exhibition against Germany in Dortmund on October 9. The 32-year-old has already been barred from participating in Argentina's first World Cup qualifiers next month because of a red card he picked up against Chile in the Copa America.
Messi was sent off during the Copa America third-place match in July after a first-half shoving match with Chile midfielder Gary Medel, who was also ejected. It was only the second time in the Argentine forward's career that he had been sent off.
'Truth needed to be told'
Though Argentina won the match and thus third place in the tournament, Messi, the team's captain, did not attend the medal ceremony in protest and said his country "should not take part in this corruption."
"Corruption and the referees are preventing people from enjoying the football and they're ruining it a bit," Messi said.
Mess was also angered by two penalty claims in Argentina's 2-0 semifinal defeat to Brazil, after which he claimed the Brazilians were "managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days."
When asked if he feared being suspended for his statements during the tournament, Messi said "the truth needed to be told." He later sent an apology letter to CONMEBOL for the comments.
dv/cmk (AFP, AP)