QUITO (Reuters) - Five Ecuadorian football players have been suspended from the national side for indiscipline after sneaking out of their team hotel ahead of a 3-1 World Cup qualifying defeat to Argentina in Quito, the Ecuadorian Football Federation said on Thursday.
Tuesday’s game was vital for Argentina, who needed points to have any chance of making it to next year’s tournament.
The home side went ahead in the first minute but Lionel Messi scored a superb hat-trick to secure Argentina’s place in the finals.
The five were not named.
“Once (coach) Jorge Celico’s report was with us, with the details of all the facts, the committee decide unanimously to suspend indefinitely the five players involved from all Ecuadorian national team activities,” it said in a statement.
Ecuador started the World Cup qualifiers with four wins in their first four games but won only two of their next 14 to drop to eighth place in the 10-team group and outside the qualifying places for Russia 2018.
Reporting by Alexandra Valencia, writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford