Lionel Messi's four-match ban for Argentina is not fair, says new AFA president
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 30/03/17 8:16pm
Lionel Messi's four-match international ban is "not fair and does not abide by the rules", according to the new president of the Argentine Football Association.
FIFA handed the Argentina skipper the suspension on Tuesday, just hours before their defeat to Bolivia in World Cup qualifying, for verbally abusing an assistant referee against Chile last week.
His club side Barcelona and national coach Edgardo Bauza have hit out at the punishment, with new AFA president Claudio Tapia, who was elected on Wednesday, saying the 29-year-old was banned because his federation had lost its influence at FIFA.
"[Messi's ban] is not fair and it doesn't abide by the rules," Tapia said.
"Part of the situation we live in, in Argentine football, is due to the loss of representation at South American and FIFA levels.
"Our task is to rebuild those ties. We have to sit down with the FIFA president, and hire the best professionals to reduce the sanctions [against Messi]."
FIFA took over administration of the AFA after it fell into crisis following the death of Julio Grondona, who was president for 35 years until his death in 2014, with an interim commission assigned by the game's governing body in mid-2016, but Tapia's election has ended that arrangement.
Argentina are fifth in South American qualifying for the World Cup in Russia in 2018, with Messi's ban set to see him miss four of his country's last five qualifiers but they have said they will appeal their captain's suspension.
Team secretary Jorge Miadosqui said: "The decision doesn't correspond with the reality based on what was put in the referee's report."
Elsewhere, Tapia has given national coach Bauza conditional support after he faced heavy pressure to resign with Argentina outside of the automatic qualification spots for the World Cup, although only two points separate them from Colombia in second spot.
"We have to make a profound analysis of all contracts signed by the previous administration," Tapia said. "We will have to meet with him [Bauza]. Then we will see what is best.
"We have to give support to the coach, to give everything so Argentina can qualify."