Gerard Pique handed four-match ban after abusing linesman

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has been banned for four games following his red card against Athletic Bilbao in the European champions’ recent Super Cup defeat.

Pique was dismissed during the 1-1 second leg draw at Camp Nou, after confronting the linesman to dispute a decision early in the second half. Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo’s official report subsequently indicated that Pique had abused the assistant referee in offensive terms – with Article 94 of the Spanish FA’s disciplinary code indicating such conduct can be punished with a ban of between four and 12 games.

The relevant section of the report read: “In minute 55 the player [3] Pique Bernabeu, Gerard, was sent off for the following reason: shouting at an assistant referee, “I s*** on your w**** mother.”

In the aftermath of the game Pique apologised for his conduct on the pitch, although he denied abusing officials in the terms reported.

“I want to apologise as the attitude with which I protested to the linesman was not correct,” Pique said on Twitter. “It was a game with a lot of tension, when we had a lot on the line. However, in no moment did I use any type of insult towards his person.”

Barcelona subsequently offered a written defence of their player to the Spanish FA, backing up Pique’s denials. Team-mate Ivan Rakitic noted, “He did not go especially at the linesman. If this was taken into account in all games, we would end up with seven or eight players sent off.”

In handing the former Manchester United player the shortest ban available under Article 94, it would seem the Spanish FA have shown him a certain sympathy – despite returning a verdict that “video supports” the referee’s claims. Nevertheless, the 28-year-old will be a huge loss as Barcelona kick off their season, with Thomas Vermaelen, Jeremy Mathieu (who has a shorter ban to serve) and Marc Bartratasked with replacing him.

Bilbao eventually won the Super Cup 5-1 on aggregate, after winning the first leg at San Mames 4-0. The two sides will meet again on Sunday when they begin their Liga campaigns.