FIFA have banned Lionel Messi for four games after he was found to have directed insulting words at the assistant referee during Argentina’s match against Chile on 23 March.
“Footballer Lionel Messi has been found guilty of violating art. 57 of the FDC for having directed insulting words at an assistant referee,” read a statement on FIFA’s website.
“As a result, Lionel Messi will be suspended for four official matches and sanctioned with a fine of CHF 10,000 (£8,110).
“The first match for which the sanction will apply is the next fixture in the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia between Bolivia and Argentina, which will be played today, 28 March.
“The remainder of the sanction will be served over Argentina’s subsequent FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.”
As well as the Bolivia game, Messi will miss fixtures against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru, with the Barcelona superstar set to return for their final World Cup qualifier against Ecuador in October.