Buenos Aires: Lionel Messi has been suspended for four games by FIFA for insulting a referee during Argentina’s win over Chile in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier last week.
The suspension is a major blow to Argentina, which is attempting to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Argentina, the 2014 FIFA World Cup runner-up, is currently third in South American World Cup qualifying, but sits just two points ahead of sixth place Chile. The top four teams in the group standings earn a berth to the World Cup, while the fifth place team has the opportunity to play in an inter-federation playoff to fight for a final spot in the World Cup.
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Argentina will now have to play four of its final five World Cup qualifiers without its superstar in Messi as it attempts to secure a spot in the World Cup. Messi’s suspension is set to begin Tuesday when Argentina plays Bolivia in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier. Messi is allowed to appeal the decision.
Messi is considered by many to be the best player in the world. He has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or award five times and is Argentina’s all-time leading goal scorer with 58 goals.