Luis Suarez has received a two-match ban from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for his part in a post-match altercation following Barcelona’s 4-1 Copa del Rey win over Espanyol on Wednesday, with the club announcing its intention to appeal the punishment.
Barcelona overturned an early strike from Felipe Caicedo in the first leg of the last-16 tie at the Camp Nou thanks to a Lionel Messi brace and goals from Gerard Pique and Neymar.
But derby-day tensions threatened to boil over during the second half as Espanyol duo Hernan Perez and Pape Diop were sent off.
In referee Juan Martinez Munuera’s report, Suarez was accused of provoking a confrontation between players from both clubs in the tunnel.
The Uruguay star is set to miss next week’s second leg, along with an anticipated quarter-final first leg tie, but Barcelona confirmed they would challenge the suspension as they dispute the version of events put forward by Munuera.
A statement released by Barcelona on their official website read: “FC Barcelona received notification on Friday from the Spanish Football Federation that striker Luis Suarez was to face a two-match suspension for allegedly taking part in a scrum between players from Barca and Espanyol in the tunnel leading to the dressing rooms following Wednesday’s Copa del Rey last-16 first leg at the Camp Nou.
“FC Barcelona will immediately proceed to appeal the ban. If the sanction holds up, Suarez would miss the return leg next Wednesday and a hypothetical first leg of the quarter-finals, should Barca qualify.
“In the appeal, FC Barcelona is expected to argue that the player, as he later stated, did not use the allegedly offensive words that were attributed to him in the referee’s official notes following the match.”
Speaking at a news conference shortly before Suarez’s ban was announced, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said he was “upset” at the prospect of his forward being punished.
“It does not depend on me whether Luis will be suspended or not, but the situation does upset me,” he said. “Without controversies, football would be nothing. Controversies are part of the game. But we can only support those who try to bring justice.
“I am living in the present rather than the past. The best way to leave the tension from the match against Espanyol behind is by not talking about it too much.”
Former Ajax and Liverpool striker Suarez appeared to have left behind his frequent brushes with controversy during a sparkling 2015-16 to date, scoring 26 times in 27 appearances across all competitions for the Spanish, European and world champions.