Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo was on Thursday handed a nine-month suspension by the Ligue 1 disciplinary committee after being found guilty of pushing a referee.
Leonardo was found guilty of pushing referee Alexandre Castro in the tunnel following PSG’s 1-1 Ligue 1 draw against Valenciennes on 5 May, with the incident being caught on camera by Canal Plus. The ban applies to all official duties as well as stopping him from being present on the touchline during PSG games.
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. PSG were also handed a three-point deduction, although that part of the punishment is suspended.
This is an unheard of suspension for this kind of offense. Leonardo is basically banned from the club for nine months. He cannot undertake his duties as Director of Football, and if Carlo Ancelotti leaves this summer for Real Madrid, Leonardo is no longer an option for PSG to take over as manager of the club.
That being said, you have to applaud the French Football Association for handing out this type of suspension. On a weekly basis we see players and managers across Europe make a mockery of the “Respect” campaign. Maybe this type of ban will make players, coaches and executives pay a little more respect towards the referee’s and the decisions they make.