Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has denied hurling vile abuse at an official during his team's Spanish Super Cup clash with Athletic Club on Monday but will serve a four-match ban for his red card in the competitive affair.
ESPN FC tweeted confirmation of Pique's punishment on Wednesday. Since the incident, the centre-back has apologised for his anger on Twitter, but he rejected claims he used any insulting language, per Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC.
"I want to apologise as the attitude with which I protested to the linesman was not correct," said Pique. "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."
The club announced their decision to appeal the suspension on Wednesday:
FC Barcelona will appeal to the Appeals Committee against the four match ban handed to Gerard Piqué for his red card in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Athletic on Monday. The Club has a period of ten days to present their appeal.
In the appeal, the player, just as he has repeated on various occasions, will point out that he did not address the referee’s assistant in the terms recorded in referee Velasco Carballo’s match report.
(Warning: Multiple expletives included below.)
According to Ed Malyon of the Daily Mirror, after being angered by a decision against the Blaugrana, Pique shouted, "I s--t on your w---e of a mother" in the direction of the linesman before being dragged away by his team-mates. The 28-year-old was sent off as a result of his actions.
BBC Sport's Andy West also reported the incident, using more tactful terminology to describe Pique's apparent jibes while also noting he will miss some vital matches as a result of the ban:
Pique's team-mate Dani Alves admitted afterward that the centre-back was "furious" at the decision, per the club's official website. The Brazilian claimed the referee's decision "did us damage."
His anger was clear to see, per KickTV:
As Miles Chambers of Goal.com notes, Article 94 of La Liga's code of ethics states that "using insults, verbal abuse or having an insulting attitude" can result in a 12-match punishment. Malyon suggested in his article that a "first offender" would hope to pick up a lesser sanction.
It was a tough night for Barcelona and Pique, as a 1-1 draw condemned the Blaugrana to a 5-1 aggregate loss in the Spanish Super Cup. They return to the San Mames, where they lost the first leg 4-0, to get their league campaign underway, and it looks as though the defence of their title will begin without their talismanic defender.
Pique and the team have been erratic, to say the least, in pre-season, with Barca conceding a whopping nine goals in their last three matches, including eight in their last two away from the Camp Nou. Aside from being a little out of form, the Spanish international has cut an angry figure in the past few months, straying from his usual jovial persona.
Indeed, after winning the European Super Cup, he could be heard saying, "Madrid can f--k themselves" during the team's celebrations, per El Chiringuito (h/t Malyon).
Earlier this year, Pique also took a swipe at Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid during more trophy celebrations, thanking Kevin Roldan—who performed at the Portuguese's birthday party following a 4-0 loss to Atletico Madrid—for helping them win the title, per Malyon.
Pique is one of the senior players in this Barcelona team, and with iconic figures such as Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes departing in recent years, he should be stepping up to be a key ambassador for this illustrious football club. If these allegations are found to be true, he needs to set a much better example going forward for those players and fans who look to him for guidance.