Madrid: Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been given a three-match ban and fined after his red card in Sunday’s 1-1 La Liga draw at Athletic Bilbao, the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) said on Wednesday.
The Portugal forward would miss Real’s league games against Villarreal, Getafe and Elche but he will be available for the King’s Cup semi-final, return leg next week.
Ronaldo, who is celebrating his 29th birthday on Wednesday, was dismissed with 15 minutes left at the San Mames after pushing Bilbao defender Carlos Gurpegui in the face and confronting midfielder Ander Iturraspe.
He was banned for one match for the straight red card for violent conduct and had an extra two games added to his punishment for a gesture of dissent made while leaving the pitch, the RFEF said.
He was also fined 1,200 euros and Real, who have 10 days to appeal the ruling, were fined 1,050 euros.
Ronaldo is Real’s top scorer with 22 goals in La Liga this season and in January won the Fifa Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best player.
Ronaldo, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Wednesday, was uncertain whether he would be able to play in the match, with his punishment still undecided that morning.
Spain’s competition committee met to make their decision and opted for a three-match La Liga suspension – one for raising a hand and two for a gesture made as he left the field, which the authorities said was “inconsiderate.”
Real are reportedly set to appeal, with that hearing likely to take place on Friday. They had hoped for a lesser ban, and their legal experts had reportedly prepared a defence including apparent errors in referee Miguel Angel Ayza Gamez’s report and an argument that Ronaldo’s gesture towards an assistant referee had been just a show of frustration.
However, a Spanish daily reported that the referee had been allowed to make corrections to his report after Madrid had presented their case.
But Atletico Madrid chief Enrique Cerezo told another newspaper that he wanted the Real star to appear, saying: “I hope Cristiano plays, because that will be a great spectacle. He is one of the best players in the world.”
Atletico coach Diego Simeone would not be drawn on the issue at his pre-game news conference, but said: “Madrid could argue they are coming in as favourites. They have had a very strong January and have picked up a lot of points. Their coach has found a system, 4-3-3, which makes the forwards they have more powerful. Madrid are better, that is normal.”