Barcelona to appeal Mascherano red card

BARCELONA: Barcelona will appeal the red card shown to Javier Mascherano in Sunday's La Liga game against Eibar for verbally abusing a referee's assistant, the Spanish and European champions said on Monday.

Mascherano was dismissed in the 83rd minute of the 3-1 victory at the Nou Camp and the Argentina international, who mainly plays as a centreback but can also operate in midfield, could face a ban of up to four matches if the appeal is unsuccessful.

That would mean he will be unavailable for some key games in Spain's top flight, including the first of the season's two 'Clasicos', to be played at Real Madrid on Nov. 21, and the match at home to Villarreal on Nov. 8.

Referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande wrote in his match report he had sent Mascherano off for directing an insult, common in Argentina, towards the match official.

Barca's appeal, confirmed at a news conference by vice-president Jordi Mestre, could hinge on whether they can prove Mascherano made the comment in passing and did not direct it towards the assistant referee.

They lost an appeal against a similar punishment given to defender Gerard Pique after he insulted a linesman in a Spanish Super Cup match in August and he was banned for four games.

Barca's victory against Eibar put them level on 21 points at the top with Real after nine matches as they chase a sixth La Liga title in eight years.