Cristiano Ronaldo has been handed a three-match ban by the Spanish Football Federation’s Competition Committee, which met on Wednesday morning to discuss the red card shown to the Portugal international in Real Madrid’s draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
The forward has been suspended for one match for striking Ander Iturraspe and a further two for raising his hand to his cheek as he left the field at San Mamés. The 29-year-old will be able to play in Wednesday evening’s Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg against Atlético Madrid (20:00 CET), but will miss three Liga BBVA matches: Villarreal and Elche at the Santiago Bernabéu, and Getafe away.
That's the current conclusion (Madrid are to appeal against the verdict) to a case which saw a confusing turn of events late on Tuesday, when referee Miguel Ángel Ayza Gámez was forced to send the Committee an amendment to his match report, so as to clarify the incident which led to the Ballon d’Or winner's dismissal.
According to the Committee’s verdict, the referee indicated that the incident which he had ruled over was the confrontation between Iturraspe and Cristiano, and not – as had previously been understood – the Carlos Gurpegui-Cristiano clash. In its case for the defence, Madrid had complained of the Committee’s unfair handling of the process. However, the disciplinary body pointed out that Article 26.2 of the disciplinary code states that it may “request any evidence it considers necessary for the greater clarification of the facts”.
The Committee describes the wording of Real Madrid’s objection as “severe” and explains that it asked Ayza to confirm, “as the referee’s report appears to intimate”, that he was referring to the confrontation between Cristiano and Iturraspe. It also insists that Madrid’s declarations were focused on the Gurpegui-Cristiano clash, “a previous incident which was not reported by the official”.
The ruling indicates that in the very images submitted by Madrid “it can be seen that the official seeks out both players [Cristiano and Iturraspe], separates them from the crowd that arises after the confrontation and shows the yellow card to the player of Athletic Club and the red card constituting the subject of these proceedings to the player of Real Madrid.” The document continues: “The mistake in considering that the incident punished is another incident (that involving Don Carlos Gurpegui Nausia) was made by Real Madrid CF in its main declarations, and less so by the referee’s report, which was subsequently confirmed and clarified by the official”.
The verdict describes Cristiano’s spat with Iturraspe as “a violent and, by consequence, unsporting gesture with the left hand of the aforementioned player in the face of his opponent”. It adds that this “did not lead to harmful or damaging consequences,” for which reason the Committee opted to apply the minimum one-match suspension.
The further two matches were brought about by an “insulting and inconsiderate” gesture which, according to the referee’s report, was aimed at the fourth official. In its defence of the player, Madrid used video evidence to show that Cristiano’s actions were not directed at the assistant, who is seen to have his back turned to the Portuguese. However, the Committee states that “an action directed at an individual does not necessarily have to be confirmed, perceived or seen by its recipient.”
With the punishment now confirmed, Los Blancos will contest the verdict through the Appeals Committee, which will meet on Friday. If unsuccessful, the club would take its appeal to the Spanish Sports Disciplinary Committee.