Barcelona have spoken out against the four-match international ban handed to Lionel Messi by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.
The decision was announced less than six hours before Argentina’s match in Bolivia on Tuesday night – which they went on to lose 2-0 – leaving the nation in danger of missing out on their first World Cup since 1970.
The five-time world player of the year was found guilty of directing insulting words towards an assistant referee in their 1-0 win over Chile last week, and will now only be available for the final qualifier against Ecuador in October.
Messi will miss a crucial fixture away to Uruguay in August, while he will also be absent for two matches at home to Venezuela and Peru.
Barcelona labelled the ban “unfair and totally disproportionate”. The full statement can be read below:
” FC Barcelona expresses its surprise and indignation at the ex officio action by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee by suspending the player Leo Messi following the FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture between Argentina and Chile.The Club considers the four-match suspension finally imposed on the Argentine player to be unfair and totally disproportionate. Finally, FC Barcelona wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct both on and off the pitch.”