Aston Villa midfielder Leandro Bacuna has been given a six-match ban after he was sent-off during the 1-0 win over Derby County last weekend for physically abusing a match official.
The 25-year-old deliberately barged into assistant referee Mark Russell after a decision went against him in stoppage time during the match at Villa Park, with referee Andy Madley producing a straight red card after being informed of the incident.
Bacuna pled guilty to a charge of violent conduct, and the Football Association deemed it an incident where a regular three-match ban would not prove an adequate punishment. An FA statement released on Friday morning said: “Aston Villa’s Leandro Bacuna will serve a six-match suspension following his dismissal the game against Derby County on 25 February 2017.
“He admitted a breach of FA Rule E3 in that his behaviour in or around the 94th minute of the game constituted violent conduct in circumstances where the standard punishment of three matches would be clearly insufficient.
“Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, a three-match suspension was added to the sanction the player is already serving following his dismissal.”
Back-to-back victories for Villa have helped lift them away from the relegation scrap, but the loss of Bacuna for the next six matches will not help Steve Bruce in his bid to salvage anything from a largely disappointing season in the Championship.
Bacuna will miss this weekend’s trip to Rotherham, as well as the Championship matches against Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan Athletic, Norwich City and Queens Park Rangers, and will only be eligible to return on 8 April when Villa host Burton Albion.
The ban comes as the FA attempts to crackdown on aggressive and violent behaviour shown towards match officials, with referees at grassroot level expressing serious concerns over the way they are treated by players, staff and fans. The International Football Association Board are also meeting on Friday to discuss proposed rule changes that could see the sport follow rugby’s lead and allow only the captain to speak to the referee about “major incidents”.