Lionel Messi's four-match international ban for swearing at an assistant referee was "unfair and totally disproportionate", his Spanish club Barcelona said Wednesday.
"FC Barcelona expresses its surprise and indignation at the decision by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to suspend Leo Messi following the FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture between Argentina and Chile," Barca said in a statement.
"The club considers the four-match suspension imposed on the Argentine player to be unfair and totally disproportionate.
"Finally, FC Barcelona wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct, both on and off the pitch."
FIFA suspended Messi for four of Argentina's five remaining World Cup qualification matches after he was caught swearing at an official in the victory over Chile last week.
Spain's La Liga president Javier Tebas told a press conference in Madrid on Wednesday he felt the sanction was heavy-handed.
"You have to put it into context, in an important World Cup qualifier a player can get overheated," Tebas said, although admitting he was unaware of what Messi had said to the official.
"It seems exaggerated to me, a one match ban or a heavy fine would have been more appropriate," he suggested.
The FIFA announcement fell just hours before Messi was due to captain Argentina against Bolivia late Tuesday. Argentina went on to lose 2-0 to the Bolivians to deal a fresh blow to their 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.
Messi will also miss Argentina's qualifiers in Uruguay on August 31, at home to Venezuela on September 5 and against Peru on October 5.