Abuja – Spanish clubside FC Barcelona on Wednesday described Lionel Messi’s four-match international ban with Argentina as “unfair and totally disproportionate’’.
The 29-year-old Barca forward was suspended by world football ruling body FIFA for directing “insulting words’’ at an assistant referee during Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Argentina captain remains free to play for his Spanish La Liga club.
In a statement, FC Barcelona expressed their “surprise and indignation’’ at the FIFA disciplinary ruling.
“The club considers the four-match suspension finally imposed on the Argentine player to be unfair and totally disproportionate,” it said.
“Finally, FC Barcelona wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct both on and off the pitch.”
Messi’s suspension was announced just five and a half hours before Argentina’s 0-2 FIFA World Cup qualifier defeat by Bolivia on Tuesday.
The result saw them drop to fifth in the table, outside the top-four spots for automatic qualification for Russia 2018.
Messi’s ban means he will not be part of three of his country’s four remaining qualifiers.