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Twitter Reacts to Lionel Messi's 4-Match Argentina Suspension

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2017

TOPSHOT - Argentina's Lionel Messi (L) argues with Chilean referee Julio Bascunan during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier football match Brazil vs Argentina, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 10, 2016. / AFP / VANDERLEI ALMEIDA        (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/Getty Images

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:

Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117

Good for Barcelona, Messi will rest for two weeks and Argentina might be out of the 2018 World Cup next year. Two summers of rest 🎉

OptaJavier highlighted Argentina's reduced chances of winning without the icon:

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OptaJavier @OptaJavier

69% - The win percentage of #Argentina in these WC Qualifiers decreases 69% without Lionel Messi. Banned. https://t.co/DtEq4IY7H4

Kevin Palmer of the Sunday World questioned the severity of the ban:

Kevin Palmer @RealKevinPalmer

Lionel Messi gets four game ban for insulting a ref.. Neil Taylor likely to get one game less for shattering Seamus Coleman's leg. Explain?

Oliver Kay of The Times felt the suspension was undeserved:

Oliver Kay @OliverKayTimes

If Messi ban is start of zero-tolerance approach to dissent, across the game, then great. But it won't be. It's arbitrary, same as ever

Freelance sports journalist Alex Truica described FIFA's decision as "a joke":

Alex Truica @AlexTruica

Messi's ban is pretty much a joke. Ref doesn't card him nor mention the incident in the report and yet FIFA bans him for 4 games? laughable

However, CNN's Matias Grez felt the ban was justified:

Matias Grez @matias_grez

Rules are rules. No special treatment just because he's Messi.

Eurosport UK highlighted Argentina's recent record when Messi has not been present:

Eurosport UK @Eurosport_UK

Lionel Messi banned for four matches 😱 Argentina at risk of missing first World Cup since Mexico 1970😰 https://t.co/9kagxwxFa6

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl speculated why FIFA have punished Messi so severely:

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

Can't help but wonder if FIFA is still angry that Lionel Messi didn't show up for their award show this year.

Jonathan Wilson of The Blizzard had harsh words for the governing body:

Jonathan Wilson @jonawils

Messi banned for four games. This is utterly ridiculous.

Jonathan Wilson @jonawils

Announcing a suspension 5 and a half hours before a game is absurd. You have to give teams a fair chance to prepare.

Jonathan Wilson @jonawils

I would like to apply for the job of Fifa's obscenity ombudsman, ranking all offensiveness (verbal or manual) on a scale of one game to life

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.

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