Barcelona and Argentina forward banned for ‘insulting’ assistant ref

Lionel Messi was banned for four international matches – just five and a half hours before Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against Bolivia kicked off.

The Barcelona forward was punished for directing “insulting words” at an assistant referee during Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.

Messi, who scored the only goal in the qualifier, was angered when he was penalised for a foul, waving and shouting at the assistant in response.

The 29-year-old was fined £8,100.

He will miss his country’s next four competitive fixtures.

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Argentina are third in South American qualifying, with the top four teams advancing to next summer’s finals in Russia. There are five matches still to play.

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