By Doga Kirmizioglu
ANKARA (AA) - The governing body of football in South America banned Lionel Messi from playing international matches for three months after Barcelona's Argentinean star accused the body of corruption during the 2019 Copa America.
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said late on Friday that the 32-year-old player’s accusations against the confederation and the organization of 2019 Copa America were "groundless and unacceptable."
Messi was suspended for three months from the international games and fined $50,000 for his comments, said the confederation in a statement.
He was absent from the medal ceremony in protest of the organization after his team beat Chile 2-1 to take third-place honors in Brazil’s 2019 Copa America on July 6.
After a scuffle in the 37th minute, both Lionel Messi and midfielder Gary Medel of the Turkish club Besiktas were sent off, leaving their respective teams with 10 men in the field.
Messi heavily criticized the organization and said Argentina, "should not take part in this corruption."
"This competition was set for Brazil to win. I did not want to receive a medal during the ceremony because I did not want to be a part of this disrespectful event. The truth needed to be told," he added.
Host nation Brazil won the 2019 Copa America after beating Peru 3-1 in the final at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium on July 7.
*Writing by Muhammed Enes Calli