Lionel Messi gets new job as Argentina cleverly exploit FIFA loophole
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Lionel Messi was given a new job for Argentina in their World Cup qualifier win against Bolivia on Tuesday.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner sat out the 3-0 win after being substituted in the 89th minute of the game against Ecuador, where he scored a trademark free-kick stunner just days earlier.
Captain Messi had complained about being tired and so he was completely rested for the clash against Bolivia at the Hernando Siles Stadium in La Paz, a place where the 36-year-old doesn't normally enjoying playing.
The ground is 3,637 metres above sea level and so players were given personal oxygen tanks to prepare for the high altitude.
Messi had "felt something" in the game against Ecuador and so was left out against Bolivia as a precaution. The Barcelona legend was seen on the bench for the triumph, where Enzo Fernandez, Nicolas Tagliafico, Nicolas Gonzalez were all on target.
He would have had to watch from the stands but the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner was granted special dispensation.
TNT Sports Argentina say that Messi filled out a form saying that he was as an assistant coach and it was signed off by FIFA.
Messi was therefore able to be alongside his teammates and manager Lionel Scaloni even though he was not in the squad.
"That's a bit of leadership too," goalscorer Tagliafico said on Messi still being present.
"He knew he wasn't going to play, he wanted to be there, he wanted to accompany us and that shows what he is."
He will now head back to the United States for club commitments with Inter Miami, take on Atlanta United on Saturday 16 September.
Messi missed their latest fixture while away with Argentina as Gerardo Martino's side beat Sporting Kansas City but is expected to return.
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