FIFA’s Appeal Committee on Friday announced the lifting a four-match international ban on Argentinian forward Lionel Messi.
The lifting of the ban comes as a significant boost for Argentina whose World Cup qualifying campaign has been shaky.
The 29-year-old was banned in March this year for insulting an assistant referee during a World Cup qualifier against Chile on March 23, 2017.
He was found guilty of violating Article 57 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
FIFA Appeal Committee passes decision on Lionel Messi: https://t.co/MYpsWBXs49— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) May 5, 2017
Messi as a result of the ban missed Argentina’s 2-0 defeat to Bolivia and would have had to sit out the games against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru.
The Committee in a statement on Friday said even though it considered Messi’s behavior “reproachable”, it said “the evidence available was not sufficient to establish … (sanctions) could be applied”.
“The appeal committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football,” it added.
Argentina are fifth in the 10-team South American group with 22 points from 14 games, two ahead of Ecuador and four ahead of Peru.
The top four teams qualify directly for the World Cup in Russia next year and the fifth-placed side goes into a playoff against a team from Oceania for a spot in the tournament.