Argentina’s Lionel Messi Suspended for Four Games

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Argentina forward Lionel Messi argued with the assistant referee Emerson Carvalho during a World Cup qualifier on Thursday against Chile.

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Juan Mabromata/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Lionel Messi was barred for Argentina’s next four games after he used “insulting words” to an official, FIFA ruled on Tuesday.

The length of the suspension was a surprise: Many commentators and soccer figures were expecting a one- or two-game ban, at most.

The ban begins immediately: Messi will miss Tuesday’s qualifier against Bolivia. It does not apply to games for his club, Barcelona.

He was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs, or about $10,200.

The suspension came only hours before the game: Argentina was due to kick off in La Paz, Bolivia, at 4 p.m., Eastern time.

“The federation will appeal, as it should,” team secretary Jorge Miadosqui told Agence France-Presse. “We feel powerless, surprised.”

Messi was called for a foul by the assistant referee Emerson Carvalho in the second half of Thursday’s game in Chile. He strongly…

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