Barthez banned for three months

Associated Press

Paris, Apri 22:

France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez was banned for three months on Friday for spitting on a referee in a friendly two months ago. The Marseille goalkeeper also received an additional suspended three-month ban. The ruling by the French soccer federation came a day after its 17-man disciplinary commission met to decide Barthez’s punishment. He could have been suspended for as long as one year after spitting at and verbally abusing Abdellah el-Achiri in Casablanca, Morocco. Barthez ran off the bench to confront el-Achiri in the 80th minute of a February 12 match between Marseille and Wydad Casablanca. Players had committed several illegal tackles and argued with each other.

Video replays showed Barthez raising his arms toward the referee and then spitting on him. Marseille was fined $1,300 while a charge against defender Frederic Dehu of verbally abusing el-Achiri was dropped. The ban starts on April 25, meaning Barthez can play for Marseille at Nantes on Saturday before missing his team’s last four games of the season. Barthez, who already said he will retire after the 2006 World Cup, will sit out France’s May 31 friendly against Hungary. He will be free to add to his 75 international caps in an exhibition against Argentina on August 17 and in September’s World Cup qualifiers against Faeroe Islands and Ireland.