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Lionel Messi to testify in appeal against four-match FIFA ban - Tapia

Alejandro Moreno deducts that Argentina would rather press on with Edgardo Bauza than replace him.

FIFA has asked Lionel Messi to testify in the appeal against his four-match international ban next month, the president of Argentina's Football Association (AFA) has said.

Messi was punished for verbally abusing a match official during Argentina's World Cup qualifying game against Chile last month.

He served the first game of his ban in last month's qualifying defeat in Bolivia and will sit out games against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru if the punishment is not overturned.

AFA president Claudio Tapia told Argentine news agency Telam: "Messi has been summoned by FIFA to present his testimony on May 4 regarding his four-match ban after the game against Chile.

"It's important that he concurs with the AFA lawyers in order to give his testimony."

Tapia, elected president of the federation last month, is travelling to Spain for discussions with the Argentina captain on Thursday.

Argentina are fifth in their South American qualifying group for the World Cup. Only the top four sides qualify directly, with the fifth going into a playoff.

They have taken 15 points from a possible 18 with Messi and only seven of a possible 24 without him.

Lionel Messi is to testify in the appeal against his ban next month.

But Tapia said he would not be holding any talks with Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone or Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli about a new Argentina coach to succeed the sacked Edgardo Bauza.

Earlier this week, he told La Tercera newspaper that he planned to meet Sampaoli about the vacancy.

But on Wednesday, Sevilla warned the AFA that any meeting with Sampaoli, who is under contract until June 2018, would be "unacceptable."

Tapia said: "The idea of my trip right now is only to see Messi as we are calm regarding the issue of the national team coach because we have plenty of time.

"That is why I'm only going to go to Barcelona and only to speak to Messi regarding the issue of the ban, which is the AFA's biggest priority right now."

Argentina are scheduled to play a friendly against Brazil on June 9 in Australia and their next World Cup qualifying match is Aug. 31 against Uruguay.

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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