Cristiano Ronaldo, the FIFA world soccer player of the year, was banned for three Spanish league games after making a gesture when he was ejected in a match at Athletic Bilbao.
The Spanish soccer federation announced the sanction on its website today.
The Real Madrid forward was sent off after an altercation with Athletic Bilbao players in a 1-1 draw on Feb. 2, and he slapped his cheek as he left the field.
The gesture was directed at an assistant of referee Miguel Angel Ayza Gamez at the side of the field, according to El Pais newspaper, citing a written report by Ayza Gamez.
In Spain, cheek-slapping shows contempt for somebody else’s behavior.
Ronaldo received a one-match ban for the red-card offense and two more for the gesture, the federation said following a meeting today.
Real Madrid is third in Spain’s La Liga after 22 of 38 games, three points behind leader Atletico Madrid and trailing Barcelona on goal difference.