FIFA’s Appeal Committee on Friday, lifted the four game suspension from international matches on Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
The striker will be available for Argentina’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru.
The 29-year-old was handed the ban retrospectively by world football’s governing body in March — along with a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160) — after television footage showed him verbally abusing a match official during a qualifier against Chile.
As a result, he subsequently missed his country’s 2-0 defeat to Bolivia in La Paz and was set to be suspended for three more qualifying games later this year.
Messi and Argentina appealed the ban, though, and on Thursday his lawyer Juan de Dios Crespo and representatives from the Argentine Football Association (AFA) appeared at a hearing in Zurich.
“The FIFA Appeal Committee has upheld the appeal lodged by the Argentine Football Association, on behalf of the player Lionel Messi, against the decision taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, lifting the sanctions imposed on him as a result,” a statement confirmed on Friday.
“Despite the fact that the FIFA Appeal Committee considered Lionel Messi’s behaviour as reproachable, the former concluded that the evidence available was not sufficient to establish to the appropriate standard, i.e. to the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee, that art. 77 a) of the FDC, according to which the Disciplinary Committee is responsible for sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention, could be applied.
“In view of the above decision, the match suspension imposed on Lionel Messi, which entered into force on 28 March 2017, and the fine of 10,000 Swiss francs have been lifted.”