The Spanish soccer federation on Tuesday suspended Lionel Messi for two matches after the Barcelona forward hit an opponent in an off-the-ball incident during the Spanish Super Cup final against Atletic Bilbao.
Messi was facing a suspension of up to 12 matches for swinging his arm at an Athletic Bilbao player during Barcelona’s 3-2 defeat in the final of Spanish Super Cup. The federation’s competition committee didn’t deem the incident to be severe and imposed a lenient penalty against Messi.
Messi appeared to have swung his right arm aimed towards the head of the Athletic Bilbao forward Asier Villalibre as they ran toward the penalty box. After the incident, Messi was handed his first red in 753 appearances for Barcelona.
Referee Gil Manzano, in his match report, stated that Messi hit his opponent with “excessive force” when the ball was not close to him. The suspension will force Messi to miss Barcelona’s match against Cornell in the Copa del Rey and against Elche in the Spanish league.