Robert Lewandowski’s three-match ban upheld
Barcelona have lost their appeal against a three-match suspension that Robert Lewandowski must serve when LaLiga resumes after the 2022 World Cup.
Barcelona’s appeal against Robert Lewandowski’s upcoming three-match suspension has been rejected by the RFEF’s Appeals Committee. The Pole incurred a one-match ban for two bookable offences in Barça’s win at Osasuna in early November and received an additional two games for making gestures towards the match officials, including referee Jesús Gil Manzano, after being sent off at El Sadar in the last club match before the World Cup break. Barcelona now have 15 days to decide whether to take their appeal to the Arbitration for Sports Tribunal.
The Catalan club had tried to overturn the first yellow card shown to Lewandowski for pulling Osasuna defender David García’s shirt, claiming that “the player neither stops his opponent recklessly nor prevents the opposition from starting a dangerous attack.” The Appeals Committee responded, stating that it is not their role “to assess the application and interpretation of the rules of the game”, which is the “sole, exclusive and definitive responsibility of the match officials.”
As for the additional two matches, the referee’s report included the following: “Once sent off, and when he was heading off the field of play, the player twice made a gesture of disapproval in reaction to the referee’s decision, consisting of putting his finger to his nose, and then pointing his thumb towards the referee. When he was about to leave the field of play, he repeated the gesture while looking at the first assistant referee and in front of the fourth official”.
In their appeal, Barcelona argue that Lewandowski’s gesture didn’t imply any contempt or offence towards the referee and that it was “misinterpreted”, while claiming that “the footballer simply expressed his dissatisfaction with the way he had been treated by the referee, but without any derogatory, offensive or pejorative intention.”
The club also make reference to German culture, in which the gesture “is interpreted as an expression of discontent in relation to a certain attitude of a third party that, in the opinion of the person who performs it, has acted in an unpleasant or offensive way”, with Lewandowski, who spent 12 years living and playing in Germany, confirming that he had used this gesture “to express his disagreement with the way in which the referee had addressed him”.
Barcelona also maintain that the gesture was not made in disapproval with the the referee’s decision, but that it was “simply expressing discontent in a polite and courteous manner, since it can also be understood as constructive criticism of the referee’s attitude.”
However, the Appeals Committee have decided that the match officials were right to judge that Lewandowski’s actions constituted a ‘benign’ violation of article 124, related to showing contempt, and the Pole’s three-match ban remains.