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Manchester City banned from signing academy players

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Liverpool has company.

Manchester City has been given a two-year ban on signing academy players from other clubs following at least two breaches of etiquette.

[ MORE: Bravo out for year ]

There’s also a fine of approximately $390,000, three times what Liverpool paid as City is guilty of more than one offense.

The second year of the ban is suspended for three years, so Man City can essentially get early release for good behavior.

It’s a blow for City, who has signed players like Aleix Garcia (above, from Villarreal) and Pablo Maffeo (Espanyol) from other academies.

Messi explains actions that warranted 4-match ban

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
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Lionel Messi is set to miss four Argentina matches for something we arguably see every week on TV.

That doesn’t make it okay, but is anyone else scratching their head at the suspension handed down to the world’s best player for verbal abuse of an official?

[ MORE: Barca defends Messi ]

Messi, 29, shouted an obscenity at the linesman in Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile, and was both banned and served the first match of his ban on Tuesday, as Argentina was beaten 2-0 in Bolivia.

Messi explained his actions Wednesday with the following:

“My expressions were never directed to the referee, they were said to the air,” Messi told La Nacion.

That’s pretty ridiculous, yeah? But I can’t help but feel the four matches are a bit harsh. Hardly a high-level match goes by without seeing a player clearly being derisive toward an offical, and usually lipreading proves it wasn’t G-rated.

Again, I have no problem for setting a standard, as abuse of officials is unnecessary (and even those of us who are serially offenders know it).

But if confederations and leagues want to get serious about cutting it out, this can’t be a one-off suspension; End the group upbraiding of referees during games, the wild gesticulations, so on and so forth.