End to ban not in sight as Messi unlikely to travel for FIFA appeal

Zurich: Lionel Messi is not likely to accompany an Argentine legal team in Switzerland on Thursday in its appeal against the forward's four-game international ban, a media report said.

Messi has already served one match of the penalty, issued in March after he was found guilty of abusing a linesman in Argentina's 1-0 victory over Chile in Buenos Aires.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was also fined $10,000 by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) disciplinary committee, Xinhua news agency reported.

Messi was expected to attend the hearing at FIFA headquarters here as the Argentine Football Association (AFA) exhausted all options in its bid to reduce the sentence.

In all likelihood, Messi might participate in the session via video link, according to widespread media reports, which cited "personal reasons" for his decision not to travel.

Argentina, who are without a coach after the sacking of Edgardo Bauza in April, are currently in danger of missing the World Cup finals for the first time since 1970.

The two-time World Cup winners were currently fifth in the CONMEBOL South American zone standings with 22 points from 14 matches, 11 points behind leaders Brazil.

The top four teams at the end of the qualifying competition would automatically progress to football's showpiece tournament in Russia in 2018. 

The fifth-ranked team would earn a play-off spot against the top side from Oceania.