Lionel Messi appears unhappy with new MLS rule as he is forced to wait on sidelines before returning to the pitch

Lionel Messi appeared to cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines when a new Major League Soccer rule prevented him from immediately returning to the pitch following an injury check.

With Inter Miami 2-0 down against Montréal on Saturday, Messi was off the pitch when his team needed someone to take a free-kick.

The Argentine had received on-field treatment moments earlier in the first half following a tackle from defender George Campbell, which had led to the free-kick being awarded, and then walked off the pitch. The situation brought the MLS’ “Off-Field Treatment Rule,” introduced in April, into play.

According to the rules: “If a player with a suspected injury remains on the ground for more than 15 seconds, the referee will stop play and wave the medical crew onto the field to evaluate the player.

“When safe, the player will be removed from the field and remain off the field for a minimum of two minutes for further assessment and treatment.”

Unable to return to the pitch, Messi turned towards a television camera on the sidelines, shook his head and said in Spanish: “With these type of rules …” The moment has been widely shared on social media.

Lionel Messi did not score during Inter Miami's 3-2 win. - David Kirouac/USA Today Sports/Reuters
Lionel Messi did not score during Inter Miami's 3-2 win. - David Kirouac/USA Today Sports/Reuters

The 36-year-old was not missed during the free kick, however, as Matías Rojas took it and scored in the top-right corner to reduce the deficit to 2-1, sparking a comeback.

Miami eventually celebrated a 3-2 victory, the team’s fifth consecutive league win which extends its unbeaten run to seven games. Luis Suárez and Benjamin Cremaschi were the other scorers on a night when Messi did not find the net.

After the match, Miami coach Gerardo Martino told reporters that there were rules that “must be revised.”

According to the rule book, the two-minute rule would not have taken effect had Campbell received a yellow or red card for the foul on Messi.

“Exceptions to the Off-Field Treatment Rule include instances of potential head injury, goalkeeper injuries, serious medical events, and fouls resulting in yellow or red cards,” the rule states.

“In Leo’s situation, he was clearly fouled,” Martino said, per ESPN. “The player deserved a yellow card, which would mean Messi would’ve never left the field for two minutes.

“As I understand it, the team that suffered the foul was punished. With these new rule changes, there are situations that must be revised. The infraction was clear and was a yellow card, and ultimately it was us that lost Leo for two minutes.”

CNN has contacted the MLS for comment.

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