Neymar’s hopes of playing in the Clasico against Real Madrid are over after he received a three-match suspension for sarcastically applauding after his red card against Malaga on Sunday.
The Barcelona forward was sent off at La Rosaleda for a second bookable offence, a punishment that carries an automatic sanction of one match.
However, referee Gil Manzano reported Neymar after the match for ironically clapping the fourth official for the decision as he left the field.
On Tuesday, the Spanish Football Federation’s competition committee confirmed that, on top of the original ban, the player would miss an additional two games for dissent.
“We must point out that clapping in itself is an act of contempt towards the referee, which was recognised by the club itself,” the committee stated in its ruling, after Barcelona had argued the applause was not grounds for punishment – an interpretation that was not shared by the governing body.
“[Barcelona] did not present any proof, be it video or of any other kind, which supports their version of the events.”
WHAT GAMES WILL NEYMAR MISS?
Neymar will be on the sidelines for Saturday’s clash at Camp Nou against Real Sociedad, and will also play no part in the following week’s Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The news is a heavy blow for Barcelona, who must win against Real Madrid to keep alive their hopes of coming back to retain La Liga.
Barca currently trail Madrid by three points, with Zinedine Zidane’s men holding an additional game in hand over their rivals.
The final game of Neymar’s suspension comes on April 26, when the Blaugrana host Osasuna.
CAN NEYMAR’S BAN BE APPEALED?
Barcelona will contest the decision before the appeals committee, which meets on Wednesday, on the same grounds that Neymar’s sarcastic clapping did not constitute dissent and that the additional ban is therefore unjustified.
In the meantime, the Brazilian will also have to tread carefully in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final.
A yellow card for Neymar in Turin against Juventus would earn him another suspension, this time in the continental tournament, and rule him out of the crucial second leg at Camp Nou against the Serie A champions.
Neymar has been vital to his team’s efforts in keeping up the chase on Madrid this season, playing 26 of their 31 games so far.
While Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez head the scoring charts, the Brazilian has weighed in with nine goals and 10 assists, making him second only to Suarez as a provider.