LEGUE 1: PSG’s Leonardo suspended by LFP for referee incident

Reuters, PARIS

Thu, May 09, 2013 - Page 18

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo was provisionally suspended for allegedly pushing referee Alexandre Castro after PSG’s Ligue 1 game at the weekend, the French League (LFP) said on Tuesday.

Television footage showed Brazilian Leonardo bumping into Castro with his left shoulder in the Parc des Princes tunnel after PSG drew 1-1 with Valenciennes in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

“The [disciplinary] commission ... will investigate the matter and given the seriousness of the facts, bans Leonardo provisionally as of Wednesday, May 8,” the LFP said in a statement.

Leonardo denied pushing the referee, saying he had been pushed toward Castro by the match delegate.

“Let me tell you something: I am the one who was assaulted and I will ask for that delegate to be suspended,” the Brazilian, who could face a one-year ban, told Le Parisien on Tuesday.

PSG centerback Thiago Silva was also handed a two-game ban for the straight red card he was shown for touching Castro while contesting a decision in the 42nd minute of Sunday’s game.

The LFP’s decision means the Brazilian defender will only be available for the final game of the season, missing Sunday’s trip to Olympique Lyonnais and a home game against Stade Brestois 29.

It was PSG’s ninth red card of the campaign — more than any other leading side in the top European leagues — and it came a week after David Beckham and Marco Verratti were sent off in a 1-0 win at Evian Thonon Gaillard.

Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu also received a two-game ban for his involvement in a brawl.

Leonardo got a two-match suspended ban from the French federation’s Ethics Committee in November last year for criticizing the referee after Mamadou Sakho was sent off in a league game at Montpellier Herault.

Stephane Lannoy, head of the referees association, said by telephone: “It is time that we calm things down so that referees can do their job serenely. I stand by Mr Castro’s decision to send off Thiago Silva. You don’t touch authority.”

PSG lead Ligue 1 on 74 points, with second-placed Olympique de Marseille seven points adrift with just three games remaining.