July 24 (UPI) -- Lionel Messi has been suspended from Argentina's first qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup and fined $1,500 for his actions during the 2019 CONMEBOL Copa America tournament.
CONMEBOL, the South American Football Confederation, announced the suspension Tuesday. Messi was critical of CONMEBOL multiple times during the tournament, targeting officials and field conditions during post-game rans.
Messi received a red card and automatic ejection during Argentina's third-place win against Chile July 6 in Brazil. He received the card after bumping chests with Chile's Gary Medel.
"We do not need to be part of the corruption that we have suffered at this tournament," Messi told reporters after the Chile game. "Medel is always right at the limit. With a yellow that would have been the end of it for both of us, but well, maybe what I said recently had an impact.
"What is important is that the team finished well in the tournament. Maybe this was ordered and I ended up suffering because of what I said.
"Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don't allow people to enjoy football."
CONMEBOL initially responded to the comments, but did not name Messi in its response.
"In football sometimes you win and sometimes lose and a fundamental pillar of fair play is to accept the results with loyalty and respect," CONMEBOL said. "The same goes for refereeing decisions, which are human and will always be improvable.
"It is unacceptable that as a result of incidents typical in competitions, involving 12 teams, all on equal terms, unfounded accusations have been launched that lack the truth and question the integrity of the Copa America.
"These accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the participating players and the hundreds of professionals of Conmebol, an institution that since 2016 has been working tirelessly to make transparent, professionalize and develop South American football."
Messi also criticized officials after Argentina's semifinal loss to Brazil. The host country beat Peru in the Copa America final on July 7.