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Lionel Messi claims foul-mouthed rant which landed him a four-match ban was not directed at assistant referee

Sports News 30th March 2017

Spread Sauberfuss Gebrüder

Lionel Messi claims foul-mouthed rant which landed him a four-match ban was not directed at assistant referee: ‘My comments were made to the air’

• FIFA slapped Lionel Messi with a four-match ban following a foul-mouthed tirade
• Messi allegedly aimed abuse at assistant referee Emerson Augusto do Carvalho
• The Argentina star insists he was making the comments to himself

Lionel Messi has refuted claims he directed a torrent of abuse at an assistant referee, claiming he was speaking to himself.

The Argentine star was slapped with a four-match ban by FIFA this week after allegations he unleashed a verbal tirade during his country’s World Cup qualifying victory over Chile.

Messi was informed of his ban just six hours before his side were due to play Bolivia in La Paz and had to sit out the 2-0 defeat.

Argentina are in the process of appealing the verdict but the player is already openly protesting his innocence.

‘My comments were never directed at the first assistant, they were comments made to the air,’ Messi told La Nacion.

Messi said ‘la concha de tu madre’, which translates as ‘your mother’s ****’ — a common cursing phrase in Argentina — in the direction of Brazilian linesman Emerson Augusto do Carvalho at the end of the match after being harried and fouled by Chile’s Jean Beausejour.

The official patted him on the head and tried to calm him down but Messi continued ranting.

Carvalho said later he did not understand at the time what Messi was saying.

‘I only realised he was swearing afterwards on reading the press,’ he said.

As well as missing Tuesday night’s match, Messi will also be absent for an away game against Luis Suarez’s Uruguay in August and home matches against Venezuela and Peru in September and October.

His country are staring at the possibility of having to qualify for the World Cup finals via a play-off or perhaps not even make the 32-team tournament whatsoever.

They currently occupy the play-off place in South American qualifying.

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