Lionel Messi (centre) argues with the referee after being shown a red card during the Copa America third-place play-off between Argentina and Chile on July 6 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Picture: Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images
Lionel Messi (centre) argues with the referee after being shown a red card during the Copa America third-place play-off between Argentina and Chile on July 6 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Picture: Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

Lionel Messi banned from internationals for three months

SOUTH American football governing body CONMEBOL has suspended Lionel Messi from international matches with Argentina for three months because of his accusations of corruption at the latest Copa America.

The South American body also said on Saturday morning (AEST) that it had fined the superstar $73,500 for his comments after Argentina's 2-1 win over Chile in the third-place play-off of the tournament in July.

Messi and Argentina can still appeal the decision - and have seven days to do so.

Unless successful on appeal, the Barcelona striker will be banned from playing in four Argentina friendlies this year: in September against Chile and Mexico, plus another two in October, versus Germany and another opponent yet to be picked.

Neither Messi, 32, nor Argentina's football association have made comments about CONMEBOL's decision.

Messi is already suspended from the first match of the South American World Cup qualifiers next March because of a red card from the game against Chile.

The Argentine was sent off for only the second time in his career after a shoving match with Chile midfielder Gary Medel, who also received his marching orders.

Messi avoided the medal ceremony in protest and later said Argentina "shouldn't take part in this corruption".

The Argentinian also said the tournament was set for hosts Brazil to win.

Messi had already complained against Copa America refereeing after Argentina's 2-0 loss to Brazil in the semi-finals.

When asked if he feared being suspended for his comments, he said "the truth needed to be told", but later sent an apology to CONMEBOL for his remarks.

News Corp Australia

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