Diego Simeone will miss all three of Atletico Madrid’s remaining La Liga games this season after the RFEF dismissed the club’s appeal against his touchline ban.
The 46-year-old was suspended after a ball boy threw a second ball onto the pitch during Atletico’s 1-0 over Malaga last weekend – supposedly in a deliberate attempt to disrupt a counter-attack. As a result, he will be forced to watch from the stands for matches against Rayo Vallecano, Levante, and Celta Vigo.
The RFEF’s Appeals Committee has argued that it “could not identify the author of the [ball’s] release”, and therefore it “must apply Article 101.2 of the Disciplinary Code, which imposed the said punishment on the Coach.”
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With no new information regarding the identification of the “author”, they saw no reason to overturn the suspension. Atletico can still take their appeal to Spain’s Administrative Tribunal for Sport (TAD).
The ban could not have come at a worse time for the Champions League semi-finalists, who are level on points at the top of La Liga following Barcelona’s remarkable collapse in March. They remain behind Barca thanks to their inferior head-to-head record, but have an easier run-in than their two title rivals - Real Madrid are still to play Valencia, whilst Barcelona face city rivals Espanyol this weekend.
As one of the most animated coaches in world football, Simeone’s wild gesticulations are a vital component of his team’s relentless high pressure and defensive organisation; only time will tell if his absence will cause his players’ energy levels to wane, or whether they will be inspired by this supposed injustice dealt to their head coach.
Atletico, who won La Liga and reached the Champions League final in 2014, have defied the odds once again this season and travel to Munich next week for a chance to reach yet another major European final. Unless they return victorious, it will be the last time this season that Simeone graces the touchline with his presence.