AFA confident Messi will face Bolivia amid ban threat
Argentinian Football Association (AFA) official Armando Perez expects Lionel Messi to play in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Bolivia following reports he could be suspended by FIFA for abusing a linesman.
The Barcelona superstar scored the only goal from the penalty spot as Edgardo Bauza's men beat Chile 1-0 in Buenos Aires last Thursday but he was seen angrily gesticulating and shouting towards the referee's assistant Marcelo Van Gasse during the closing stages.
Messi then refused to shake the official's hand and was still visibly displeased at full-time. The incidents were not included in the referee's initial match report but FIFA contacted the AFA on Monday to seek clarification over the 29-year-old's remarks.
In the document, FIFA gave the responses of the match officials when asked whether they heard any offensive language from Messi.
Referee Sandro Ricci said: "I did not hear any offensive language from Messi. If I heard any offensive words, I would have acted according to the rules of the game."
Van Gasse added: "After a foul committed by Messi, who was next to me at the end of the game, I saw that he complained against the foul by raising his hands and saying something that I did not understand at the time."
Reports in Argentina suggest Messi could miss out in La Paz, with Bauza already without four players due to suspension, although the punishment could be delayed until August's trip to Uruguay, while the Ole newspaper states a fine could be the chosen course of disciplinary action.
Nevertheless, Perez believes Argentina's talisman will play as they seek to build upon moving into the Russia 2018 qualification places.
"I think Messi is going to play," the president of the AFA's disciplinary commission told TyC Sports' 'No todo pasa' programme.
"I do not think they will take any action. There was no report from the referees. It is a concern that FIFA has to know how it was and we were called.
"It seems strange that FIFA takes too many precautions now in a lot of things that it did not take before."
Earlier, speaking to La Tercera, Perez sounded a more conciliatory tone.
"If [Messi] behaved out of place, he should be penalised like any other player. Just because he is the best player in the world he should not have a different deal," he said.
"It seems to be that it is within the regulations to be investigated. They are asking for background information. Everything that is within the regulation must be fulfilled."
Nicolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia and Gonzalo Higuain are suspended for a potentially tough assignment at La Paz's punishing altitude, while full-backs Gabriel Mercado and Emmanuel Mas are ruled out due to injuries sustained against Chile.
Messi has four goals in qualification and Argentina's form dropped off dramatically during his two previous absences, due to injury, during the campaign.
La Albiceleste have won five and lost one with Messi in the side, although that return falls to one victory, four draws and two defeats without him.