Lionel Messi has been banned for four international matches for abusing an assistant referee, FIFA has announced.
The Argentina forward was also fined 10,000 Swiss Francs (£8,100) for “having directed insulting words” at the official during his side’s World Cup qualifier with Chile last Thursday.
The Barcelona star was caught on camera venting his fury at an assistant who signalled he had committed a foul late on in Argentina’s 1-0 win. He was not shown a card at the time.
However, 29-year-old has now been punished and will miss Tuesday’s meeting with Bolivia as well as Argentina’s following three World Cup qualifiers.
Messi will also miss the qualifier in Uruguay in August, at home to Venezuela the following month and at home to Peru in October, meaning he will only be able to return for Argentina’s final qualifying match away to Ecuador.
Argentina lie third in the South American qualifying group, with only the top four guaranteed a place in Russia 2018.
Only three points separate second-placed Uruguay and Chile in sixth, meaning Messi’s absences could prove costly for his country.
A statement from FIFA said: “Footballer Lionel Messi has been found guilty of violating art. 57 of the FDC (FIFA disciplinary code) for having directed insulting words at an assistant referee.”
“As a result, Lionel Messi will be suspended for four official matches and sanctioned with a fine of CHF 10,000.”
It added that the suspension was “in line with the FIFA disciplinary committee’s previous rulings in similar cases”.