In the latter stages of Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, Lionel Messi saw red – quite literally.
In the 120th minute of the match, the 33-year-old hit out at Asier Villalibre as Barça struck in search of a late equalizer.
After the VAR room told him to take a look, Referee Jesus Gil Manzano did not see the incident first-hand but checked it on the pitch-side monitor.
The match official was left with no choice but to send the superstar off after seeing the video of Messi hitting his opponent.
This was the first red card in Messi’s career at the club. On two previous occasions, he was sent off, but both came in Argentina’s international matches (against Hungary in 2005 and Chile in 2019).
A six-time winner of the Ballon d’Or may have absolutely no reservations about the decision.
It may have been out of character, but it was a red card that was obvious and justified.
Messi’s moment of insanity is going to lead to a ban now – and it may be a long one, too.
If in his paper, Manzano describes the incident as a serious offense, which seems almost likely, Article 98 of the Disciplinary Code of Spanish Football specifies that the player will face a suspension of between four and twelve matches — yes, twelve.
This is according to Marca, a Spanish newspaper, which understands that the most likely result is a four-game suspension.