Lionel Messi’s four-match international ban is “not fair and does not abide by the rules”, according to the new president of the Argentine Football Association Claudio Tapia.
FIFA found the Argentine captain guilty for his misconduct on the field in World Cup qualifier against Chile last week and handed him four match international ban and a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160).
Messi was subjected to the fine by FIFA after being caught of abusing an assistant referee against Chile last week. His absence has already been seen in Argentine’s side as they lost 2-0 against Bolivia on Tuesday. He is due to miss three more of Argentina’s remaining four World Cup qualifiers thereby making the 2014 world cup finalist more vulnerable.
Messi has asserted his innocence in a letter to FIFA after being hit with a four-match international ban, saying he was yelling “to the air” and not verbally abusing a match official.
“I vehemently deny having offended assistant referee 1 during the game against Chile, and more so do not believe that my conduct falls under article 57 of FIFA’s disciplinary code,” he wrote.
“Assistant referee 1, of Brazilian nationality, perfectly understood what I was saying, so much so that we spoke amicably and at no time did my words offend or insult the official.
“If any of my words made assistant referee 1 uncomfortable, they were never directed at him but rather to the air and for that, I apologise.”
The new AFA president Claudio Tapia, who was elected on Wednesday, has also expressed is anger by saying that the 29-year-old was banned because his federation had lost its influence at FIFA.
“[Messi’s ban] is not fair and it doesn’t abide by the rules,” Tapia said.
“Part of the situation we live in, in Argentine football, is due to the loss of representation at South American and FIFA levels.
“Our task is to rebuild those ties. We have to sit down with the FIFA president, and hire the best professionals to reduce the sanctions [against Messi].”