Paris Saint-Germain director of football Leonardo was given a nine-month ban from the club on Thursday after he was found guilty of barging into a referee in PSG's 1-1 draw with Valenciennes in Ligue 1 earlier in May.
PSG will also be deducted three points in the Ligue 1 standings at the start of the 2013-14 season.
ESPN FC had the news on Twitter:
BREAKING: Leonardo handed a nine-month ban and PSG a suspended three-point deduction after the Brazilian was found to have barged ref. #psg— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 30, 2013
As noted by Ian Holyman of ESPNFC.com, the French Football League's Disciplinary Commission had a hearing on Thursday evening to determine the fate of Leonardo for the upcoming season. He was found guilty by the panel of shoulder-charging referee Alexandre Castro shortly following the May 5 home match with Valenciennes.
The LFP released a statement, as noted by Reuters via Yahoo! Sports, saying that Leonardo's ban covers "the bench, the referees' dressing-room and from all official functions" in addition to the three-point dip PSG will take to open up its next Ligue 1 season.
Leonardo originally denied causing the bump on his own, saying that he was pushed toward Castro by the match delegate. Replays would attest to the contrary, however, and likely served as an added tidbit for the committee to use in its decision to give Leonardo nine months off.
If you haven't seen the video or need a refresher of Leonardo's shoulder-check on Castro, 101GreatGoals had this post on Twitter:
PSG director Leonardo suspended for 9 months after this little 'incident' with a referee after a PSG game http://t.co/iVCs7ZSzPT— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) May 30, 2013
The PSG boss was reportedly upset that Castro had red-carded captain Thiago Silva just before halftime. Cameras clearly caught Leonardo thrusting his body at Castro before PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi pulled him away.
Leonardo spoke to the media following his meeting with the disciplinary committee on Thursday (via Holyman's report):
I'm happy to have been listened to. I retold what I had experienced. Now, I'm calmly waiting for the decision...We had things to say. That's why I'm happy to have been able to explain myself, to have given my view of that. I think that's important.
As noted by Castro's lawyer, Patrick Anton, later in the ESPNFC report, the images that Leonardo hoped would clear his name from "internal cameras" at the Parc des Princes showed the same conclusion that watching the video brings: his decision to bump Castro was voluntary.
The ban leaves PSG shrouded in doubt when it comes to finding both a manager and a sporting director for next season.
How do you feel about Leonardo's nine-month ban?
French paper L'Equipe speculated on Thursday that a long ban for Leonardo might mean the end of his duties with the club and lead to Carlo Ancelotti—who is on record as stating his desire to leave PSG this summer—being given both the coaching and sporting director role at the club (per ESPNFC).
The 43-year-old Leonardo has been a mainstay in football for over two decades now, scoring 69 career league goals in his senior stints with various clubs throughout Europe, including PSG, Sao Paolo, Valencia and A.C. Milan. He would retire with Milan following the 2002-03 season after a 16-year senior career.
Leonardo was also a member of the Brazilian national team during his playing days.
His next venture in the sport was managing—Leonardo coached A.C. Milan and Inter Milan before being hired as the director of football for PSG in 2011. It was expected in football circles that Leonardo would assume the managing role at PSG if Ancelotti was to leave, but now the future is very much in flux for both men with respect to their current club.