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Dublin: 7°C Monday 1 March 2021

Argentina World Cup hopes boosted as Messi gets four-game ban quashed

Fifa have decided to keep the game’s biggest star in with a chance of playing in their biggest tournament.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

FIFA TODAY OVERTURNED Lionel Messi’s four-game ban from international football, imposed for swearing at an assistant referee, saying there was not enough evidence to support the stiff punishment.

The U-turn is a major boost to Argentina’s hopes of reaching next year’s World Cup in Russia, with a trip to Uruguay next up in August as the Albiceleste sit fifth in the qualifying table.

Fifa say its appeal committee sided with a challenge filed on Messi’s behalf by the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and lifted “the sanctions imposed on him as a result”.

“Despite the fact that the Fifa Appeal Committee considered Lionel Messi’s behaviour as reproachable” it concluded “the evidence available was not sufficient” to justify a four-game ban.

In March the striker was found guilty of “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee” in a World Cup qualifier against Chile which Argentina won 1-0 thanks to a penalty from the Barcelona star.

Argentine football chief Armando Perez conceded that Messi “made a mistake”, but argued that Fifa’s sanction was disproportionate.

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