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Lionel Messi Stunned By UEFA Ban on Manchester City, Sympathizes with Players Who Will ‘Miss Out’

Argentine football star Lionel Messi has opened up on Manchester City’s recently ruled two-year ban from European competitions imposed by UEFA, expressing “surprise” at the decision.

The Argentine was speaking in an interview for Mundo Deportivo, touching on a wide range of issues, including the bombshell ruling by UEFA.

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Manchester City players celebrate after they demolished Germany's Schalke 7-0 on 12 March 2019

Missing out on Europe’s premier club football competition for a span of two years would be “weird” for a club of such stature as Manchester City enjoys, claims Messi.

“It is surprising because nobody thought that such a thing could happen, so powerful,” said Messi, adding:

“Paris [Paris Saint-Germain] paid a fine or I don’t know how it went. If in the end City does not play the Champions League for what it is, with the players, the club, and the money it spends, it will be weird.

The forward and captain of both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team speculated on what might happen to some of the club’s current costly squad, who might opt to “jump ship” in wake of the ban.

Soccer Football - Spanish Super Cup - Semi Final - FC Barcelona v Atletico Madrid - King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - January 9, 2020 Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring a goal that was later disallowed after referral to VAR

“If City does not enter the Champions League there are many players who may look for an exit or perhaps not. The Champions League is very attractive so two years without playing it is screwed.”

Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have been banned from the Champions League for the next two seasons by UEFA and fined €30m after they were found to have misled European football’s governing body, overstating their sponsorship revenue in accounts submitted between 2012 and 2016 - which would allow them to spend more money – and thus breaking financial fair play rules.

The ruling followed an investigation sparked by the publication of “leaked” emails and documents obtained by a Portuguese computer hacker and submitted to several European news media outlets, including Der Spiegel in November 2018.

Man City have denied wrongdoing, denouncing the Spiegel coverage as based on “hacked or stolen” materials taken out of context.

The club said it will appeal the UEFA verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). If Manchester City’s appeal fails, the financial implications might far exceed the fine, as the cost of 2 years of UEFA Champions League prize money at an estimated €200m or more would also factor in.

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