Messi gets off easy with two-game ban after Super Cup red card


Messi will miss Barcelona’s match against third-division club Cornella in the Copa del Rey and against Elche in La Liga.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has escaped a lengthy ban for lashing out at Athletic Bilbao’s Asier Villalibre in Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final defeat and will only serve a two-game suspension.

The Barcelona forward was facing a suspension of up to 12 matches for swinging his arm at an Athletic Bilbao player at the end of the team’s 3-2 loss on Sunday.

The federation’s competition committee did not deem the incident to be severe and applied a less severe penalty against the player.

The Spanish football federation (RFEF) said he will miss Thursday’s Copa del Rey last-32 tie at Cornella and Sunday’s La Liga match away to Elche.

He is set to return to face Bilbao in the league on January 29.

‘Violence during play’

After passing the ball out to the left flank, Messi swung his right arm at the head of Athletic forward Asier Villalibre as they ran toward the box. Villalibre immediately fell to the ground and after a video review, Messi was given his first red card in 753 appearances for Barcelona.

Referee Gil Manzano said in his match report that Messi hit his opponent with “excessive force” while the ball was not near him.

He would have faced a sanction ranging from four to 12 matches had the RFEF’S competition committee described the incident as aggression but it was instead reported as “violence during play,” which is punished with a two to three game ban.

It was the first time that Messi had been sent off for Barcelona.

He had received two red cards while playing for Argentina, including on his debut back in 2005.


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