Madrid - Barcelona centre back Gerard Pique has been banned for four matches by the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) after he was sent off for insulting a linesman in Monday's Spanish Super Cup second leg against Athletic Bilbao.
Barca can appeal and may get the sanction reduced but if that fails the Spain international will miss the Spanish and European champions' opening four La Liga matches, including Sunday's trip to play Bilbao and the game at Atletico Madrid on Sept. 12.
Pique apologised via his Twitter account on Tuesday and denied using insulting language.
With Barca attempting to overturn a 4-0 deficit from the first leg and leading 1-0 on the night, he was shown a straight red card 10 minutes into the second half at the Nou Camp.
Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo acted after Pique strode angrily up to the linesman and yelled in his face.
Bilbao levelled the score at 1-1 on the night 16 minutes from time to secure a 5-1 aggregate success.
A Barca spokesman said the club had not yet decided whether to lodge an appeal.