LIONEL Messi and Barcelona have been fined a combined £706 after the player was shown a yellow card for lifting his shirt to pay tribute to the late Diego Maradona following his goal in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Osasuna.
Messi, who was fined £543 while his club were fined £162, paid homage to his late compatriot by taking off his Barcelona jersey to reveal a Newell’s Old Boys shirt belonging to Maradona, a gesture that was praised around the world.
The Spanish Soccer Federation’s competition committee showed little sympathy when upholding the rules, rejecting Barcelona’s protests against the punishment and their suggestion it should be waived as the gesture was a tribute to Maradona.
The committee’s statement said that while it accepted the gesture was a tribute, article 93 of the disciplinary code states that a player should be punished for removing their shirt when celebrating, irrespective of the motive.
The statement added that Messi could only have had the sanction waived if he had been given the booking in error.
Messi supports Newell’s Old Boys and played for the club’s junior team before leaving for Barca aged 13.
He had also paid tribute to Maradona, who played for the Rosario side in 1993, when the World Cup winner died last Wednesday.
“He has left us but he isn’t going anywhere because Diego is eternal,” Messi wrote on Instagram. – Reuters