Lionel Messi 'faces potential two-year ban' from international football for corruption comments

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Lionel Messi has caused very little controversy during his illustrious career, but the Argentine forward raised eyebrows with comments made over the weekend.

The 32-year-old, regarded by many as the greatest footballer of all time, was sent off for only the second time in his career during the Copa America third-fourth play-off match between Argentina and Chile on Saturday.

The sending off was extremely harsh. Messi may have given Gary Medel a little push near the byline, but it was the Chilean whose subsequent actions earned the pair of them a straight red card.

Messi, who was left in floods of tears when he was sent off on his international debut against Hungary in 2005, couldn’t believe the decision - and neither could just about everybody else.

After the match, Messi spoke openly and honestly about his feelings to reporters in the mixed zone - and may have landed himself in hot water, in the process.

Following his refusal to pick up his third-place medal with the rest of his teammates, Messi said: "I didn't go to the podium because we shouldn't be part of the corruption and lack of respect.

"We were meant for more but they didn't let us be in the final. The corruption and the refs didn't allow the people to enjoy and football is ruined.

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"The corruption and the referees didn't allow us to be in the final. You have to say the truth.

"Brazil champions? No doubt. Sadly, I think the Copa is set up for Brazil.

"Hopefully the refs and VAR will have nothing to do with it and Peru will be able to compete because they have the team to do it."

These comments could have serious repercussions for Messi, according to the Spanish newspaper AS.

They claim that Messi now faces a potential ban of up to two years - yes, two years - because CONMEBOL rules prohibit ‘insulting in any means or manner CONMEBOL, its institutions or personnel’.

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If Messi is handed the maximum punishment, he would not only miss the 2022 World Cup qualification process, but also next summer’s Copa America in Argentina and Colombia.

CONMEBOL have already released a statement, branding Messi’s comments “unacceptable”.

The statement continued: “Said accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the football players involved and the hundreds of professionals of CONMEBOL, institution that since 2016 has been tirelessly working to transparent, professionalize and develop South American football."

Whether CONMEBOL will slap Messi, the continent’s highest-profile player, with a two-year suspension from international football remains to be seen.

Argentina v Chile: Third Place Match - Copa America Brazil 2019

If they do, the fall-out would be biblical.

Watch this space…

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