The Argentine star Lionel Messi was barred on Friday from playing for his national team for three months and was fined $50,000 by CONMEBOL, the South American soccer governing body, after he heavily criticized the organization during the Copa América.
Messi, 32, accused CONMEBOL of corruption after he was sent off against Chile in the third-place playoff match during the tournament in Brazil, which ended last month.
Messi was angered by two incidents during the Copa.
Argentina was denied two penalty claims in its 2-0 semifinal loss to the hosts, after which Messi claimed Brazil was “managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days.” And when he was harshly dismissed in the next game, which Argentina won, 2-1, he could not contain his anger.
“Corruption and the referees are preventing people from enjoying the football, and they’re ruining it a bit,” Messi said.