Lionel Messi: Barcelona star escapes long ban for hitting opponent

Lionel Messi has been suspended for Barcelona’s next two matches after he hit an opponent in an off-the-ball incident in the Spanish Super Cup final. 

The Barcelona forward could have been banned for up to 12 matches for swinging his arm at an Athletic Bilbao player at the end of his team’s 3-2 loss on Sunday.

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However, the federation’s competition committee did not deem the incident to be severe and applied a less severe penalty against the player. Barcelona have confirmed they will appeal against the decision.

After passing the ball out to the left-wing, Messi swung his right arm at the head of Athletic forward Asier Villalibre as they ran toward the box. Villalibre immediately fell to the ground and after a video review, Messi was given his first red card in 753 appearances for Barcelona.

Referee Gil Manzano said in his match report that Messi hit his opponent with excessive force while the ball was not near him.

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Messi will miss Barcelona’s match against third-division club Cornell in the Copa del Rey and against Elche in the Spanish league.

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