What's the story?
Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi has been handed a three-month ban from international football and a $50,000 fine for his controversial comments against the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) during the 2019 Copa America.
In case you didn't know...
Messi concluded his international campaign this summer on a rough note as Argentina crashed out of the Copa America after a defeat to old rivals, Brazil, in the semi-finals of the tournament.
The defeat, together with Sergio Aguero's overlooked challenge, paved the way for a series of allegations made by the Barcelona star against the match officials, which claimed that they had made decisions that favored the Selecao throughout their semi-final clash.
The controversy followed Messi to Argentina's third-place playoff against Chile, where he was sent off in the first half for an altercation with Gary Medel.
After the game, the 32-year-old decided to boycott the award ceremony and refused to join his teammates on the podium to accept his bronze medal. He instead spoke to reporters and accused the CONMEBOL of corruption and rigging the tournament in favor of Brazil.
Messi was hit with a one-match suspension and a $1,500 fine for the red card he received during the clash against Chile but was yet to be reprimanded for his comments.
The heart of the matter...
According to Marca, Messi has now been handed a three-month ban from international football for the corruption claims, with the punishment scheduled to begin today, August 3.
The ban means the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will miss three friendlies against Chile, Mexico, and Germany. However, he will be able to feature for the first qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar except for the opening game during which he will serve the one-match ban he received for the red card against Chile.
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Messi is currently getting ready for another season with Barcelona as the Spanish champions face Arsenal in a clash for the Joan Gamper Trophy tomorrow.