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Neymar banned for three Champions League matches over ref rant

Neymar (left) watched PSG’s March 6 defeat to Manchester United from the stands © AFP / FRANCK FIFE

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Apr 26 – Neymar was suspended for three Champions League matches by UEFA on Friday for a foul-mouthed tirade at match officials following Paris Saint-Germain’s shock exit from this season’s tournament to Manchester United.

The Brazil star missed the 3-1 Champions League second leg last 16 defeat on March 6 through injury, but told match officials “to go fuck yourselves” on social media after watching on from the sidelines at the Parc des Princes.

Neymar was found guilty of “insulting/molesting acts against match official”, European football’s governing body announced in a statement after opening an inquiry into his outburst on March 22.

The 27-year-old, who will now miss half of PSG’s group stage matches in the Champions League next season, was angry with the award of a decisive injury-time penalty which Marcus Rashford scored to send United through.

“It’s a disgrace. They get four guys who don’t understand football to watch a slow motion replay in front of the TV,” Neymar wrote in Portuguese on Instagram after the game.

He had watched on incredulous from the sidelines as United were awarded the spot-kick for a debateable handball via the video assistant referee (VAR) system, allowing Rashford to fire United into the quarter-finals on away goals.

Neymar was reportedly so enraged by the decision to give the penalty that he had to be restrained by PSG staff to stop him entering the referee’s dressing room.

United were given the spot-kick after Presnel Kimpembe was judged to have handled Diogo Dalot’s shot.

PSG made Neymar the world’s most expensive player in 2017 by signing him from Barcelona for 222 million euros as they stepped up their bid to win a maiden Champions League title, but they have now lost in the last 16 in three straight seasons.

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Injury has already ruled Neymar out of several key European matches for PSG, the forward missing the last 16 second leg tie against Real Madrid in 2018, then both legs against Man United at the same stage this season.

In June last year, his teammate Gianluigi Buffon was handed a three-match suspension after a tirade against referee Michael Oliver following his former club Juventus’ similarly dramatic quarter-final defeat by Real Madrid.

Former PSG defender Serge Aurier was the first player to be banned by UEFA for comments made on social media in 2015.

Neymar’s ban comes on the eve of his return to PSG’s starting line-up after injury for Saturday’s French Cup final against Rennes.

He made his first appearance since January 23 as a second-half substitute in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Monaco as PSG celebrated clinching a sixth Ligue 1 crown in seven years.

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