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UEFA Suspends Buffon For Three Matches

Gianluigi Buffon has been banned for three matches for his red card and comments about referee Michael Oliver after JuventusChampions League quarter-final defeat against Real Madrid.

The goalkeeper was dismissed when he aggressively confronted the Premier League official following the injury-time award of a penalty against his side, leading to Real’s winning goal.

Buffon then launched a verbal attack when he said that Oliver had ‘a rubbish bin where his heart should be’. Both the referee and his wife, Lucy, were the subject of online abuse and had to be offered police support.

But UEFA have finally acted to punish the 40-year-old, who has since left Juventus but will be suspended for three games should his new club take part in European competition next season. The ban is one game for his red card and two for his ‘general principles of conduct’.

Buffon spoke about the incident after being hit with the UEFA charge last month. Still, though, he tried to justify his actions.

‘I still don’t understand why the referee sent me off – and you, rather than focusing on my comments, should look at behaviour from the official that was not really consistent,’ he said.

‘I said a few days later that I went over the line and that’s evident. I am extremely sorry about that, as over 23 years of my Champions League career, I was never sent off or suspended, so I feel that I behaved fairly and in a sporting manner with everyone.

‘It was a particular situation and a few days later I confessed the Buffon of that day, with the sentiments and feelings of that night, couldn’t help but say those things.

‘A few days later, clearly, I was sorry to have “offended” the referee, because at the end of the day he is a human being who does a very difficult job.

‘If I’d seen him two days later, I’d have hugged Michael Oliver and apologised, but also said he could have been a bit calmer in such an important game for us and for me.’

Buffon was incensed when, with Juve having clawed back a three-goal deficit from the first leg, Oliver pointed to the spot in the 93rd minute after Mehdi Benatia’s clumsy challenge on Lucas Vazquez inside the six-yard area.

Pundits and former referees later said that Oliver was correct to award the penalty, converted by Cristiano Ronaldo after a lengthy delay during which Buffon was sent off.