Barcelona defender Gerard Pique will miss the first four matches of the new Primera Liga season for abusing match officials in their Spanish Super Cup tie with Athletic Bilbao on Monday.
Pique was shown a straight red card in the second leg, which ended 1-1, for taking his protests towards a referee’s assistant too far as the Spanish champions failed to overcome a 4-0, first-leg deficit.
The length of the ban was confirmed by Spanish football’s disciplinary committee on Wednesday.
Pique will miss Barca’s rematch away to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and the trip to Atletico Madrid on September 12, as well as home games against Malaga and Levante.
[ – At Barcelona, simple equation outweighs whatever concerns: Messi, Neymar, Suarez ]
[ – How dangerous are Spain’s challengers? La Liga’s non-Barca, non-Madrid talking points ]
According to the referee’s report, Pique seriously insulted the linesman using abusive language.
However, despite apologising for his actions, Pique said he did not use the language alleged by the referee.
“I want to apologise because the attitude with which I protested to the linesman wasn’t correct,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It was a game of great tension in which we were playing for a lot. However, at no moment did I use any type of insult towards him.”
Barcelona had appealed against the red card on Tuesday.
“In the arguments presented, we wanted to make clear that the player did not address the assistant referee in the terms written afterwards by the referee Velasco Carballo in the referee’s report,” the club said in a statement.
Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic also defended his teammate’s actions, saying the referee had been too quick to produce the red card.
“The ban worries me because Pique is an important player. A sending-off like that also worries me because he spoke without any bad intent, it was the nerves,” the Croatian said on Tuesday.
“If this merits a sending off, there will be many in every game.”
Follow us on Twitter at NatSportUAE