Barcelona defender Pique banned 4 matches for outburst

MADRID (AP) Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has been given a four-match ban for insulting a linesman during the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, which his club lost 5-1 on aggregate to Athletic Bilbao.

A Competition Committee judge on Wednesday ordered the sanction having studied the case after Pique was sent off for the offense during the match.

Barcelona presented arguments in defense of its player, but was unable to shorten the punishment, and the decision means Pique will not be able to play against Bilbao, Malaga, Atletico Madrid and Levante at the beginning of the La Liga season.

Referee Velasco Carballo's match report said Pique used foul and abusive language while shouting at the assistant referee.

Earlier, Pique had apologized and insisted he did not insult the official.

Pique said it was a match with a lot of pressure ''in which we were playing for a title.''