Reds to appeal ban as Mascherano issues apology

April 4, 2008

Liverpool have today confirmed they will appeal against the extended two-match ban handed to Javier Mascherano following his red card at Manchester United.

The midfielder, who has already served a mandatory one-match suspension for his red card at Old Trafford almost two weeks ago, admitted a Football Association charge of improper conduct levied for his angry refusal to leave the field, but the club still intend to appeal the additional ban.

A spokesman said: 'We have put in the appeal and requested that the penalty not be set aside pending the outcome. Consequently, Javier is suspended for tomorrow's game at Arsenal.'

Having been cautioned already during the Barclays Premier League defeat on March 23, the 23-year-old was shown a second yellow card in the 44th minute after running 20 metres to referee Steve Bennett to question the booking of striker Fernando Torres.

The Argentina international had to be ushered off the pitch by Liverpool staff and team-mates as he attempted to remonstrate with Bennett.

Mascherano picked up an automatic one-match suspension for the red card and a ban for a further two Premier League games as well as a £15,000 fine.

He admitted a charge of improper conduct after a personal hearing and was punished further by the FA, with the additional suspension meaning he would miss tomorrow's trip to Arsenal and the home game with Blackburn on April 13.

But Liverpool have confirmed they are unhappy with the 'inconsistency of sentencing based on past precedents', with Mascherano seemingly being made a scapegoat for some high-profile displays of petulance towards referees.

Those precedents could include the cases of Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who staged a long protest after being sent off in last season's Carling Cup final, and that of Watford's John Eustace, who showed a reluctance to leave the field after being dismissed last month.

Both players had their automatic bans extended by only one match and Liverpool's decision not to 'set aside' the impeding suspension against Arsenal would suggest they are hoping for a reduction to one match.

Mascherano, meanwhile, has expressed his regret for the incident and publicly apologised.

He said in the Daily Mail: 'I apologise to everyone. I made a mistake and I regret this mistake. It was my fault.

'I am not a dirty player, I do not make a habit of showing disrespect towards referees.

'I don't like this and I can only think the high intensity of the fixture, against Manchester United, affected my behaviour that day. It was out of character but I do not use that as an excuse.'

He added: 'Looking back at that game, I was wrong to approach the referee. I approached him to talk to him but I understand this was not a good idea.

'I reacted badly to the red card because I could not believe what was happening to me.

'I must learn my lesson but move on from this and forget what has happened. I hope people know that I try to be fair and that I have no intention to be aggressive.

'Off the field, it has been a difficult time for me. My disciplinary record has been good until now but I have to show that again. I always try to respect decisions by the referee and this is important.'