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PSG's Leonardo slapped with nine-month ban

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PSG's Leonardo slapped with nine-month ban
PSG's Leonardo is led away by club president Nasser al-Khelaifi. Photo: Ligue1 Football+
08:08 CEST+02:00
Leonardo the Brazilian sporting director of Paris Saint Germain was handed a nine-month ban on Thursday after being found guilty of barging into a referee by French football authorities. PSG said the decision was unjust and plan to appeal.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo was on Thursday handed a nine-month suspension after being found guilty of pushing a referee.

The ban, handed down by the disciplinary commission of the French Football League (LFP), applies to all official duties as well as stopping him from being present on the touchline during PSG games.

The Brazilian was found guilty of deliberately pushing referee Alexandre Castro in the tunnel following PSG's 1-1 Ligue 1 draw against Valenciennes on May 5th, with the incident being caught on camera by Canal Plus television.

PSG responded by saying they will appeal the sanction.

In a statement the club described the suspension as "an unfounded decision and extremely severe".

The club's full statement read: "Paris Saint-Germain takes note of the decision of the LFP Disciplinary Committee to suspend Leonardo, the team's Sport Director, for a nine-month period and to sanction the Club by a conditional withdrawal of 3 points.

In the light of the material elements submitted to the members of the Disciplinary Committee, Paris Saint-Germain considers this decision to be unjustified and extremely harsh. As a result, and in solidarity with its Sports Director, Paris Saint-Germain will appeal this decision."

Having regularly been outspoken in his criticism of match officials throughout the course of the season, Leonardo was furious at Castro's decision to send off PSG captain Thiago Silva in the first half of the game.

Silva was shown a straight red card for lifting his hands to the referee as he protested a decision.

Speaking after the incident, Leonardo denied the allegations telling AFP he had been pushed into Castro.

"I wanted to speak to the official and I waited for him. There were lots of people returning to the changing rooms and when Mr. Castro arrived there was a delegate in front of me trying to block me who pushed me," explained the Brazilian.

"I then, with my back, made contact with the referee. It's hard to see in the footage but in slow motion you can see it."

PSG were also handed a three-point deduction, although that part of the punishment is suspended.

The suspension could have serious consequences for the future of Leonardo at PSG.

It is believed that the French champions' Qatari owners had been considering the Brazilian former AC Milan and Inter Milan coach as a replacement for current boss Carlo Ancelotti, if the Italian gets the move away from the club that he wishes.

However, the length of the ban handed down almost certainly rules that out and is likely to have a major impact on his ability to carry out his duties as sporting director.

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