FIFA lift four-match ban on Lionel Messi
FIFA's Appeal Committee has lifted the four-match ban on Argentina forward Lionel Messi after upholding the Argentinian Football Association's appeal to have the player's suspension overturned.
Messi was handed a four-game suspension by FIFA's Disciplinary Committee in March for allegedly using foul language towards an assistant referee during Argentina's 1-0 win over Chile in the CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The Barcelona star had to sit out Argentina's 2-0 loss to Bolivia as a result of the suspension, and was also forced to pay 10,000 Swiss francs (€9213), but he will now be free to return to play for La Albiceleste's summer friendlies with Brazil and Singapore, as well as Argentina's World Cup qualifier with Uruguay in August.
A statement on FIFA's website read:
"The FIFA Appeal Committee has upheld the appeal lodged by the Argentinian Football Association, on behalf of the player Lionel Messi, against the decision taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, lifting the sanctions imposed on him as a result.
"Following a hearing which took place in Zurich on 4 May 2017, the Appeal Committee has set aside the decision taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on 28 March 2017, which, in application of art. 77 a) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC), had found Lionel Messi guilty of infringing art. 57 of the FDC for having directed insulting words at an assistant referee.
"Despite the fact that the FIFA Appeal Committee considered Lionel Messi’s behaviour as reproachable, the former concluded that the evidence available was not sufficient to establish to the appropriate standard, i.e. to the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee, that art. 77 a) of the FDC, according to which the Disciplinary Committee is responsible for sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention, could be applied.
"In view of the above decision, the suspension for four matches imposed on Lionel Messi, which entered into force on 28 March 2017, and the fine of CHF 10,000 have been lifted."