Lionel Messi escapes a lengthy ban for striking player during the Spanish Super Cup final

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Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has been suspended and would miss the club’s next two matches after he was sent off in the Spanish Super Cup final for hitting an opponent in an off-the-ball incident.

Messi could have been axed for up to 12 matches for swinging his arm at an Athletic Bilbao player at the end of his team’s 3-2 loss on Sunday.

But Messi will get away with it as the federation’s competition committee did not deem the incident to be severe and applied a less severe penalty against the player.

Also, Barcelona have confirmed they will appeal against the decision.

Messi was given his first red card in 753 appearances for Barcelona after he was found to have swung his arm at the head of Athletic forward Asier Villalibre as they ran toward the box. Villalibre immediately fell to the ground with a video review confirming the incident and leading to Messi being sent off.

Gil Manzano, the Spanish Super Cup referee said in his match report that Messi hit his opponent with excessive force while the ball was not near him.

Messi will miss Barcelona’s match against third-division club Cornell in the Copa del Rey and against Elche in the Spanish league.

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