Rio de Janeiro: Argentina captain Lionel Messi has been given a three-month ban from international football for his claim that the Copa America in Brazil was influenced by corruption.
The Barcelona forward was also fined 50,000 US dollars by South American football governing body CONMEBOL Friday.
The ruling means Messi will miss Argentina’s friendlies against Chile, Mexico and Germany in September and October. Messi has seven days to appeal the decision, reports Xinhua news agency.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner made the allegations after being sent off for an altercation with Gary Medel in Argentina’s 2-1 defeat of Chile in the Copa America third-place playoff last month.
After the match Messi said: “We don’t have to be part of this corruption. They [referees] have showed us a lack of respect throughout this tournament.” Messi also said the competition was “set up” for eventual champions Brazil to win.
The 32-year-old had already been suspended for one competitive match and fined 1,500 US dollars for his comments and the red card.
“It’s unacceptable that there have been unfounded accusations that misrepresent the truth and put to judgement the integrity of Copa America,” a CONMEBOL statement read.
“The accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the players involved and the hundreds of professionals of CONMEBOL.”