Lionel Messi has escaped with a one-match ban and a £1,200 fine for accusing CONMEBOL of corruption at the Copa America.
Messi had suggested there had been a bias against him after being sent off in the third-place play-off match against Chile in Brazil.
His comments drew an immediate response from the South American game’s governing body – and left him facing the prospect of up to a two-year ban.
They said: “These accusations represent a lack of respect to the competition, to all the participating players and to the hundreds of professionals of the CONMEBOL, an institution that since 2016 has been working tirelessly to make transparent, professionalise and develop South American football.”
CONMEBOL’s regulations forbid players from making insulting any of their institutions or officials, with the maximum penalty being a 24-month suspension from the international game.
But the superstar has been let off with little more than a slap on the wrist for calling the integrity of the body into doubt.
Messi has been fined £1,200, and they also upheld the one-match ban for the sending-off against Chile, which means he misses Argentina’s opening 2022 World Cup qualifier.
Other than that, no further action will be taken – meaning a huge sigh of relief for Argentina who will now have their best player at their disposal.
Messi was sent off in the third-place play-off match against Chile in June after clashing with Gary Medel.
The pair locked horns after Barcelona star Messi had shoved Medel midway through the first half of the bronze medal match in Brazil.
It led to the defender aiming at headbutt at the Barcelona star, sparking a melee as players from both sides got involved.