Lionel Messi cleared to play in Copa America in USA

AP
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Lionel Messi will be heading to the U.S. this summer.

Messi, 28, will play for Argentina in the 2016 Copa America Centenario this summer, according to his coach Gerardo Martino.

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La Albiceleste — currently ranked No. 1 in FIFA’s world rankings — will have their captain and talisman. Good news for Argentina. Bad news for the other 15 teams in the tournament.

The issue here is that Messi is currently embroiled in a tax fraud investigation in Spain and his lawyers have requested the date of his trial be on June 7, which is during the group stages of the Copa America tournament.

Speaking to Continental Radio, Martino confirmed that Argentina expects to have Messi available for the entire tournament in the United States of America.

“These are issues that perhaps may have some impact on football,” Martino said.”I think we should have no problem with his presence at the Copa America Centenario. If he suspected that there might be a problem, we would have said.”

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Messi and his father, Jorge, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud in Spain after allegedly defrauding the government of $4.4 million in tax from 2007-09.

Argentina open up their Copa America Centenario campaign with a Group D encounter against Chile on June 6 in Santa Clara, then face Panama in Chicago on June 10 before finishing off group play against Bolivia in Seattle on June 14.

Martino has already ruled out Messi playing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio from Aug. 3-20.