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Messi ban expires, to play World Cup qualifier

Lionel Messi can play in Argentina’s opening 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier next month, Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), said on Thursday.

Tapia said this was because the statute of limitations (barring him from playing) has run out on the ban he was given during last year’s Copa America

Messi was banned for one game after being sent off in the Copa America third-place playoff against Chile and for levelling accusations of “corruption” at South American football chiefs.

Messi had been expected to serve the ban by missing Argentina’s qualifier against Ecuador, which is scheduled to take place in Buenos Aires on Oct. 8.

However, Tapia said he had consulted with South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) President Alejandro Dominguez.

“…. he confirmed the statute of limitations had expired and that he (Messi) is able to play,” Tapia was quoted as saying by AFA on twitter.

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The FC Barcelona forward was shown the red card after clashing with Gary Medel.

Afterwards, he alleged the tournament had been fixed in favour of hosts Brazil, who beat Argentina in a controversial semi-final on their way to claiming the title.

Argentina, who last won the World Cup in 1986, kick off their qualifying campaign with a double-header at home to Ecuador and away to Bolivia.

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