In a groundbreaking ruling that observers say could fundamentally change the relationship between officials and players, Lionel Messi has today received a four-match international ban for being the first footballer in history to swear at a linesman.
The Argentina forward will miss his country’s match against Bolivia tonight, as well as their next three qualifiers, after stunning the football world with a loudmouth tirade against a linesman during Argentina’s game against Chile on March 23.
Speaking after the announcement of the ban, FIFA spokesman Feredica Monela said that the organisation hopes the ban will show players that offensive language – previously never heard in the game – is not permitted.
“We here at FIFA and the wider football world in general are disgusted at the behaviour of such a senior professional as Lionel Messi. As the first recorded incident of swearing at an official in global football history we feel it appropriate to hand down a suspension proportionate to the crime,” said Monela today, adding that she was proud of the quick response by the governing body in the face of such an unprecedented act.
“We have never encountered this sort of verbal violence before, nor did we ever expect to. Frankly, we hope and believe that this ban will make it clear that swearing in football will never be accepted ever again. Once is enough.”
At press time, the linesman in question was said to be considering retirement after suffering what was described as “catastrophic psychological damage”.