Cristiano Ronaldo suspended five games for red card, referee shove

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/real-madrid/" data-ylk="slk:Real Madrid">Real Madrid</a>’s <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/cristiano-ronaldo/" data-ylk="slk:Cristiano Ronaldo">Cristiano Ronaldo</a>, right, reacts after Referee Ricardo de Burgos shows a yellow card during the Spanish Supercup, first leg, soccer match between FC <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/barcelona/" data-ylk="slk:Barcelona">Barcelona</a> and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/barcelona/" data-ylk="slk:Barcelona">Barcelona</a>, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, right, reacts after Referee Ricardo de Burgos shows a yellow card during the Spanish Supercup, first leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Cristiano Ronaldo has been suspended five games for his preposterous red card and subsequent push of a referee in Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup first leg.

Ronaldo was sent off two minutes after scoring a screamer to put Real Madrid 2-1 up on Barcelona. He was shown a first yellow for taking off his shirt in celebration, then shown a second minutes later for diving.

After a disbelieving Ronaldo saw the red card come out of the referee’s pocket, he threw his hands up in exasperation, then chased after the referee and he pushed him in the back:

The Spanish Football Federation hit Ronaldo with a typical one-match ban for the red card, but added an additional four games for the shove.

Ronaldo has 10 days to appeal the suspension. Real Madrid has already said it will appeal the second yellow card, and thus the red, but a successful appeal would merely slash the length of the ban from five games to four.

And Ronaldo has little grounds for a rescinding of the penalty for the shove. The Spanish federation’s disciplinary rules call for a ban of between four and 12 matches for anything that can be characterized as at least “slightly violent” behavior toward a ref, so Ronaldo’s suspension is as short as the bylaws allow for.

Pending the appeals, the ban will keep the Portuguese superstar out of Wednesday’s Super Cup second leg against Barcelona. Ronaldo will also then miss Real Madrid’s first four La Liga games: at Deportivo La Coruña, vs. Valencia, vs. Levante and at Real Sociedad.

Crucially, though, the 32-year-old forward will not miss his team’s first Champions League match (Sept. 12 or 13). That’s because the ban was levied by the Spanish federation, not by UEFA, the European governing body that oversees the Champions League.

So while missing five games for taking your shirt off, tumbling to the ground under minimal contact and reacting to a referee’s decision is pretty ridiculous and embarrassing, it’s far from the end of the world. Madrid is a better team than Barcelona even without Ronaldo, and should be able to hold onto its 3-1 aggregate lead heading into Wednesday’s second leg in the Spanish capital. And Madrid will be heavily favored to win its first four La Liga games no matter who is on the field.

It may even be a blessing in disguise. The month off could have Ronaldo a bit fresher for the Champions League knockout stages next spring, not to mention the World Cup next summer.

Any appeal of the ban would likely be driven by principle. Ronaldo’s red card was one of the softest you’ll see. The first yellow, of course, was required by rule after his stunning goal:

But the second yellow was very debatable:

The shove is inexcusable, and again, it required a punishment. Here’s the portion article 96 from the Spanish federation’s disciplinary code, translated to English, that concerns “slight violence toward referees” by players:

“Pulling, pushing or shaking, or a general attitude toward the officials, even if only slightly violent, without confirming an aggressive attitude on [the official’s] part, will be punished with a suspension of four to 12 games.”

But on the whole, five games — roughly one-eighth of the Spanish season — still seems harsh.

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