Lionel Messi has controversially been handed a four-game ban by FIFA after the world governing body found him guilty of using abusive language against an official when Argentina defeated Chile in World Cup qualification.
FIFA issued a statement on its official website confirming its decision after the incident. The snap decision is a huge disappointment for Argentina, forcing their talisman to miss the vital qualification trip to Bolivia on Tuesday.
The South American giants need to finish in the top four to progress to Russia 2018, and defeat in La Paz will open the door to the chasing pack in the table.
Journalist Rafael Hernandez said the shock ban is positive for Barcelona, providing their player with an unexpected rest:
OptaJavier highlighted Argentina's reduced chances of winning without the icon:
Kevin Palmer of the Sunday World questioned the severity of the ban:
Oliver Kay of The Times felt the suspension was undeserved:
Freelance sports journalist Alex Truica described FIFA's decision as "a joke":
However, CNN's Matias Grez felt the ban was justified:
Eurosport UK highlighted Argentina's recent record when Messi has not been present:
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl speculated why FIFA have punished Messi so severely:
Jonathan Wilson of The Blizzard had harsh words for the governing body:
According to Mauricio Savarese of the Associated Press, Argentina have not won in Bolivia since 2005, and they were heavily defeated 6-1 in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
The visitors had expected their captain to feature in the game and will now have to initiate emergency measures.