Barcelona striker Luis Suarez was banned two games by Copa del Rey after the referee accused him of provoking Espanyol players. Barcelona came back from behind to win the match, 4-1, but it was quite the heated contest.
BREAKING: Luis Suarez has been handed a two-game ban for "allegedly taking part in a scrum" in the tunnel vs. Espanyol. Barca will appeal.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 8, 2016
Espanyol had two players sent off. There perhaps should have been a third, as Pau Lopez appeared to stamp on Lionel Messi.
Witnesses say Suarez provoked a scuffle between the clubs in the tunnel following the game. The striker has been involved in several prior incidents, including biting three opponents and racially abusing another.
According to AFP, Suarez waited for the Espanyol players as they climbed the stairs in the tunnel towards the dressing rooms and verbally attacked them several times. Referee Juan Martinez Munuera filed a report which had Suarez yelling, “Here I am waiting for you, come here; you are a waste of space.”
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique denied any wrongdoing, calling the reports of confrontations “Christmas carols” and blaming the referees for the situation escalating the way it did.
“It isn’t down to the coaches or the players to keep the peace,” Enrique told reporters, including The Independent‘s Tom Sheen. “It’s down to the referees to ensure that we play football and not American football. There was some tension. I’d like it if there were more football, fewer interruptions and no injuries.
Barca has already announced that they will appeal Suarez’s suspension, alleging he did not say the things he was accused of. They are slated to play Espanyol next week, but if his appeal is unsuccessful, Suarez won’t be playing in that contest.