Lionel Messi has avoided a ban for Argentina after being awarded a red card The Barcelona star was sent off in Copa America third-place...
- Lionel Messi has avoided a ban for Argentina after being awarded a red card
- The Barcelona star was sent off in Copa America third-place play-off vs Chile
- Messi slammed referees at the tournament and complained of 'corruption'
- Argentina claimed that the statute of limitations on the ban had expired
Lionel Messi has avoided a ban for the Argentina national side after being awarded a red card back in 2019.
The Barcelona forward was given his marching orders controversially last year in the Copa America third-place play-off after a scuffle with Gary Medel and was handed a one-game ban.
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) stated that Messi will have to miss a competitive match to serve his ban, as Argentina played friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay later that year.
It's been a rollercoaster few weeks for Messi, who has recently taken a U-turn on a potential exit from the Nou Camp following a stand off with new Barca boss Ronald Koeman. He was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City but has committed to his boyhood club for another season.
Ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Ecuador, next month, Argentina confirmed that Messi's ban had been lifted and he would be eligible for selection.
They managed to overturn the decision by claiming that the statute of limitations on the ban had expired.
Messi saw red inside the first-half of their third-place play-off with Chile after a collision with midfielder Gary Medel that saw both players given an early bath.
Despite not having their star talisman on the pitch, they went on to win the match 2-1 as Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala scored for Argentina.
Messi had some choice words after the red card as he implied that officials were rigging the tournament in Brazil's favour.
'There is no doubt, the whole thing is set up for Brazil,' he said. 'I hope the VAR and referees don't play any part in the final and that Peru can compete but it looks tough to me.
'I did not want to be part of this corruption, we shouldn't have to be part of this disrespect we suffered during the Copa America.
'We could have gone further but we weren't allowed into the final. Corruption, referees and all the rest stopped people from enjoying the football.
'I always tell the truth and I'm honest, that is what keeps me calm, if what I say has repercussions that is not my business.
'I think that what happened is because of what I said [against Brazil]. What I said last time perhaps came back to haunt me.'