Club and country woes for di Maria

Brazil star Neymar (No. 10) was one of three PSG players sent off after a brawl was sparked during their 1-0 Ligue 1 loss to Marseille on Sept 13.
Brazil star Neymar (No. 10) was one of three PSG players sent off after a brawl was sparked during their 1-0 Ligue 1 loss to Marseille on Sept 13.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS • Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel di Maria received a four-match ban on Wednesday for spitting at Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez.

The French champions' fiery Ligue 1 home clash with Marseille almost a fortnight ago saw five players sent off and claims of racial abuse by Neymar .

The suspension was meted out by the league's disciplinary commission and takes effect from next Tuesday, meaning he can play against Reims on Sunday, before returning the weekend of Nov 8.

Neymar's accusation that Gonzalez racially abused him will be investigated next Wednesday, the commission announced.

The Brazilian, who was sent off for slapping his opponent on the back of the head, has accused the Spaniard of calling him a "monkey", which Gonzalez has denied.

The world's most expensive player at £198 million (S$347.3 million) is serving a two-match ban for that incident on Sept 13.

The fracas also led to teammate Layvin Kurzawa incurring a six-match ban for kicking out at Marseille's Jordan Amavi, who was hit with a suspension of three games after he too was dismissed.

PSG midfielder Leandro Paredes was banned for two games after he was sent off for a clash with fellow Argentinian Dario Benedetto, who was given his marching orders.

The French league's disciplinary commission is also investigating accusations that Neymar made racist remarks towards Marseille's Japanese right-back Hiroki Sakai and made a homophobic slur against Gonzalez. Any player found guilty of racist or discriminatory abuse risks a ban of up to 10 matches.

There was more disappointment for di Maria on Wednesday as he was left out of the Argentina squad for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia.

The midfielder helped take PSG to the Champions League final last month and said he could find "no explanation" for his omission.

"It is difficult to understand why I'm not selected," he told Argentinian radio station AM 590. Local pundits have suggested coach Lionel Scaloni left the 32-year old out as he wants to phase in new players.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2020, with the headline 'Club and country woes for di Maria'. Print Edition | Subscribe