ZURICH, March 28: FIFA says it has opened a disciplinary case against Lionel Messi after TV pictures showed the Argentina forward verbally abusing a match official in a World Cup qualifying game against Chile.
FIFA can judge Messi before Tuesday's qualifier in Bolivia and impose a ban if a red card was justified.
The incident was not initially reported by the Brazilian referee after Argentina beat Chile 1-0 in Buenos Aires on Thursday.
Messi was angered late in the game when an assistant referees flagged him for fouling an opponent. He waved his arms and shouted profane insults at the assistant.
After the game, Messi refused to shake hands with the assistant who had annoyed him.
Argentina is third in the South American standings with five games left. Four teams qualify directly.