Barcelona defender Pique handed four-game La Liga ban
AFP, Wednesday 19 Aug 2015

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique will miss the first four matches of the new La Liga season for abusing match officials in the European champions' Spanish Super Cup defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

Pique was shown a straight red card in the second leg of the tie on Monday, which ended 1-1, for taking his protests towards the linesman too far as Barca failed to overcome a 4-0 first leg deficit.

The length of the ban was confirmed by Spanish football's disciplinary committee on Wednesday.

Pique will now miss Barca's daunting rematch away to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and the trip to Atletico Madrid on September 12, as well as home games against Malaga and Levante.

According to the referee's report, Pique seriously insulted the linesman using abusive language.

However, despite apologising for his actions, Pique insisted he did not use the language alleged by the referee.

"I want to apologise because the attitude with which I protested to the linesman wasn't correct," he wrote on his official Twitter account.

"It was a game of great tension in which we were playing for a lot.

"However, at no moment did I use any type of insult towards him."

Barcelona had appealed against the red card on Tuesday.

"In the arguments presented we wanted to make clear that the player did not address the assistant referee in the terms written afterwards by the referee Velasco Carballo in the referee's report," the club said in a statement.

Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic also defended his team-mate's actions, claiming the referee had been too quick to produce the red card.

"The ban worries me because Pique is an important player. A sending-off like that also worries me because he spoke without any bad intent, it was the nerves," the Croatian said on Tuesday.

"If this merits a sending-off there will be many in every game."

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