Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has defended his actions surrounding the incident that landed him a four-game ban from FIFA following the alleged verbal abuse of an assistant referee during the recent World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Chile.
Messi was slapped with the suspension after it was stated that he said what translates as "f*** off, the c*** of your mother" towards the Brazilian linesman Dewson Silva.
However, a report from Marca notes that in his defence to FIFA before the suspension was officially handed down, a letter from Messi claimed his foul mouthed tirade had not been directed at Silva, or anyone at all for that matter.
"My words were never addressed to the linesman, they were just said in the air," he argued.
Argentina were beaten 2-0 by Bolivia in La Paz on Tuesday night in their first of the four games without Messi. The team slipped back down to fifth place in the CONMEBOL standings, outside an automatic qualifying place, as a result and now face a serious fight to make it to Russia.
Even though the enforced absence only applies to international football, Barcelona were quick to defend their player in a strongly worded statement on Wednesday.
The club labelled Messi's ban 'unfair and totally disproportionate', while also expressing their 'surprise and indignation' over the decision.
Barça officials are particularly keen for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner to sign a new contract and will be desperate to avoid any situations that upset or annoy their most valuable asset.
Messi's brief knee-jerk international retirement last summer came as a result of losing the Copa America final, which came very soon before he rejected Barça's offer of a new deal.
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