Argentina were defeated 2-0 by Bolivia in a World Cup qualifying tie that held few hours after Argentine captain Lionel Messi was handed a four-match ban by world football governing body, FIFA, for abusing an official in a previous qualifier.
Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Martins scored the goals for Bolivia, as the result now leaves Argentina in fourth position in their South American 10-team World Cup qualifying group after Columbia beat Ecuador 2-0 and Chile thumped Venezuela 3-1.
Messi was punished for using “insulting words” towards an assistant referee during last Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.
The Barcelona superstar was caught on camera ‘swearing’ at an assistant referee after decisions made by the official during the match. Messi was called for two fouls that he didn’t even feel were remorse, and he yelled various insults at the assistant referee refusing to shake his hand after the match.
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The 29-year old was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs (9,350 euros, $10,170), with FIFA saying, “This decision is in line with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee’s previous rulings in similar cases.”
As it stands, four games are remaining of the World Cup qualifying, and Colombia has climbed above Argentina and Uruguay into second as Brazil continue on top, leaving Argentina at the verge of finishing fifth.
The top four automatically qualifies for spots in Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, while the team that finishes fifth advances to an inter-confederation play-off featuring one side each from Asia, Concacaf and Oceania.
However, the Argentina Football Association will appeal the ban, but if not reviewed by FIFA, Messi will miss games against Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela later this year.
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