Lionel Messi can play in Argentina’s opening World Cup qualifier next month because the statute of limitations has run out on the ban he was given during last year’s Copa America, the president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Thursday.

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.

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Messi had been expected to serve the ban by missing Argentina’s qualifier against Ecuador that is scheduled to take place in Buenos Aires on October 8. However, Claudio Tapia said he had consulted with the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) president Alejandro Dominguez, who “confirmed the statute of limitations had expired and that he (Messi) is able to play,” the AFA said on…

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