Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 29th 2017 Contents sports A55
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 guardian.co.tt
FIFA bans Messi for 4 W/Cup qualifying games
GENEVA --- Lionel Messi is banned
from Argentina's next four World Cup
qualifying games, dealing a blow to a
campaign by the 2014 runner-up that
has stuttered without him.
Messi's suspension for "having direct-
ed insulting words at an assistant referee"
during a home qualifier last week against
Chile started yesterday, shortly before his
teammates played Bolivia in La Paz.
Without Messi, Argentina went on to
lose the qualifier 2-0.
The five-time FIFA player of the year
can appeal to FIFA, but is on track to return
for Argentina's final match in the 10-team
South American qualifying group, hosting
Ecuador on Oct. 10.
"We have to appeal this decision, we'll
see how it goes," said Jorge Miadosqui,
Argentina's national teams director. "But
we're left angry and sad because (Messi)
will not be with the team."
Argentina has relied on its captain Messi
to move up to third place in a group where
the top four qualify for the tournament in
Russia. The fifth-place team will enters a
playoff in November, likely against New
Messi has scored in four qualifiers so far,
with Argentina going on to win every game.
Without him, though,Argentina has earned
only seven points out of a possible 24.
The 1978 and 1986 world champion is
now only two points ahead of sixth place,
currently held by Chile, which was playing
Venezuela later on Tuesday.
Argentina's next match is away to Uru-
guay on Aug. 31. Then it has two home
games against struggling sides: Venezuela
on Sept. 5 and Peru on Oct. 5.
It was close to a must-win match last
Thursday when Argentina hosted Chile, the
team it lost to in the Copa America finals
of 2015 and 2016
Argentina won 1-0 after Messi scored
with a first-half penalty at the vibrant
Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires,
but he lost his cool in the closing minutes.
Messi reacted angrily when a decision
went against him and aimed a volley of
profane abuse at the assistant. He refused
to shake hands with the official after the
FIFA could intervene as the incident
was not initially reported by the Bra-
zilian referee. It was judged a red-card
offense for Messi.
"This decision is in line with the FIFA
Disciplinary Committee's previous rulings
in similar cases," said the world soccer body,
which also fined Messi 10,000 Swiss francs
Messi and the Argentine soccer federa-
tion can challenge the ban at FIFA's appeals
committee. It rarely overturns disciplinary
rulings, though it could reduce the number
of games he must miss.
A subsequent appeal does not currently
seem possible to the Court of Arbitration
for Sport. FIFA's legal statutes do not grant
jurisdiction to the Swiss-based CAS in "ap-
peals arising from ... suspensions of up to
The Messi ban adds further turmoil to
the embattled Argentina soccer federation,
which is currently being run by an emer-
gency committee appointed by FIFA last
A previous generation of Argentine soc-
cer leaders were implicated in corruption
and indicted by the U.S. Department of
Justice in 2015, and subsequent federation
elections were disputed. New elections are
scheduled this week.
The interim federation leader questioned
FIFA's judgment Tuesday.
"I think it's unusual because it will set
a precedent that will decide the future of
many things," Armando Perez told Ar-
gentina's TyC Sports channel. "I think it's
too sensitive for something like this. They
should have reasoned or contemplated this
is in another way.
"Four games is too much."
Messi's behaviour and ban could affect
his chances of winning FIFA's best player
award for 2017, even if his club Barcelona
wins the Champions League.
FIFA guidance to voters is that on- and
off-field conduct should be taken into
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are in
a career-long duel for the game's most
prestigious prize, and the Portugal and
Real Madrid forward won his fourth FIFA
award in January to draw within one of his
In a stark contrast for soccer's global
stars, Messi has been shamed this week
while Ronaldo was rewarded with the air-
port in his home island of Madeira being
named in his honour. (AP)
In this photo taken Thursday, Argentina's Lionel Messi argues with assistant referee Emerson Augusto de
Carvalho during a World Cup qualifying match against Chile in Buenos Aires, Argentina. AP PHOTO
Djokovic in, Nadal out for
Serbia-Spain Davis Cup
MADRID --- Rafael Nadal will miss
Spain's Davis Cup quarterfinal
against Serbia and the chance to
take on Novak Djokovic in Belgrade
Nadal, the 14-time Grand Slam
champion, was not in the team an-
nounced by Spain captain Conchita
Martinez yesterday. No reason was
Serbia player-captain Nenad Zimon-
jic said in Belgrade that Djokovic, who
has dropped from his No. 1 ranking after
suffering a slump in form following his
French Open title last year, will play in
the April 7-9 series.
Djokovic will be back in action after
pulling out of the Miami Open because
of an elbow injury.
Viktor Troicki and Dusan Lajovic are
the other players on Serbia's roster.
Spain will also be without its sec-
ond-highest ranked player, Roberto
The team will be led by world No.
19 Pablo Carreno Busta, who will be
joined by Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Marcel
Granollers, and double specialist Marc
Spain, a five-time champion, is trying
to make the semifinals for the first time
Nadal missed the Davis Cup tie
against Croatia last month because of
fatigue following his five-set loss to
Roger Federer in the Australian Open
final. Doctors recommended time off
for Nadal because he had played a sig-
nificant number of matches following a
four-month layoff due to a wrist injury.
The seventh-ranked Nadal is in the
Miami Open fourth round this week.
Bautista Agut, also through to the
Miami fourth round, withdrew from
Indian Wells a few weeks ago because
of an abdominal muscle injury. (AP)
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