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Lionel Messi wins appeal against four-match Argentina ban after ‘abusing assistant referee’

Barcelona star will be back for crucial games as under-performing and managerless Argentina look to secure spot at 2018 World Cup in Russia

Lionel Messi has won an appeal against a four game ban for abusing the assistant referee during Argentina’s World Cup qualifier versus Chile on March 23.

As well as the ban, the Barcelona star was also fined 10,000 Swiss Francs (£8,100) for ‘having directed insulting words’ at the official during the game.

Lionel Messi was hit with the ban for verbally abusing a linesman in the game against Chile on March 23

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Lionel Messi was hit with the ban for verbally abusing a linesman in the game against Chile on March 23

However the FIFA Appeal Committee has upheld the appeal lodged by the Argentinian Football Association, on behalf of Messi, against the decision taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

A FIFA statement stated that they ‘considered Lionel Messi’s behaviour as reproachable’ but added that ‘the evidence available was not sufficient to establish’ whether an infringement worthy of the ban had occurred.

Lionel Messi is appealing his four-match suspension handed out by Fifa

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Messi will return for crunch fixtures against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru

It continued: “The Appeal Committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football and any unsporting conduct that may be contrary to the principles of fair play cannot be accepted.”

Messi missed Argentina’s 2-0 defeat in Bolivia due to the ban but will make a timely return as his under-performing country face crunch matches against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru in their bid to qualify for the 2018 finals in Russia.

Argentina are currently managerless after Edgardo Bauza was sacked in April