LFP to review Leonardo 'ref attack'
Leonardo risks a year-long ban and Paris Saint-Germain face a potential point deduction after their sporting director appeared to barge into referee Alexandre Castro after Sunday's draw with Valenciennes, though the Brazilian claims: "I was the one assaulted".
The French Football League's (LFP) Disciplinary Commission will review Canal+ images filmed after the full-time whistle in which Leonardo, incensed over Thiago Silva's first-half red card in the 1-1 draw, appears to career into Castro with his shoulder as the referee made his way to his dressing-room at the Parc des Princes.
Article 2.9 of the LFP's regulations stipulates that for "deliberate barging or attempted punches" directed towards a match official, transgressors can be sanctioned with a year-long suspension from all official functions, meaning they are banned from the dressing room, the pitch and the bench, while points could also be deducted.
"It's the delegate in front of me, with a black ear-piece, who blocked my path. It's him who pushed me into the referee," Leonardo told L'Equipe. "Look at the pictures: I don't touch the referee with my shoulder but with my back. Because I was the one pushed. It is me who was assaulted. The referee doesn't have the face of someone who's been attacked. That's because there was no violence on my part."
The Brazilian added: "In my mind, I just want to talk, that's all. I asked him what had happened, but he didn't reply."
French media reported Castro has sent a report on the incident to the commission, while Leonardo's version of events is contradicted by Marc-Gerard Biolchini, the principal match delegate who pushed the PSG sporting director away from Castro before PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi intervened to calm his colleague.
"I didn't barge into or touch Leonardo at any time. The pictures are clear enough. The commission will study them and we'll explain what happened," Biolchini told Le Parisien. "In 20 years, I've never known such an act of violence. Already at half-time, Leonardo came to speak to the referee. I stopped him going into the dressing-room, because he was really annoyed. It's regrettable that it's all ended like this."
Which conclusions the commission will draw from the TV pictures are not clear as Leonardo is partially obscured by fourth official, Sébastien Desiage. The punishment that will be meted out is also uncertain, though while Leonardo could well be sanctioned personally, the commission has never in its 40-year history imposed a point deduction in a similar case.
That will come as a relief to PSG, who have a seven-point lead over second-placed Marseille with three games remaining. The referee's union in France, SAFE, has already delivered a stinging rebuke of Leonardo's actions, however.
"This type of attitude gravely damages football's image, and threatens the physical and moral integrity of the referee in the exercise of his public service mission," it said. "SAFE calls on all those on the pitch, officials and bodies to allow referees in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 to officiate in a climate of basic respect."