ROME: A four-match ban imposed on Napoli’s 30-goal star striker Gonzalo Higuain was reduced to three on appeal on Friday (Saturday in Manila), as his side seeks to overturn a six-point gap on league leaders Juventus.
Higuain has already sat out one match after a spectacular meltdown at Udinese two weeks ago during a shock 3-1 defeat.
Higuain was shown his second yellow card for kicking out at defender Felipe before launching a verbal tirade against the referee and angrily remonstrating with Udinese players.
The disciplinary commission said he uttered “an insulting term” to the referee, and made “a disrespectful gesture when he faced him and laid his two hands on his chest”.
It also evoked “aggressive behaviour towards an opponent” and pointed out that Higuain had “to be restrained by his teammates”.
On Friday Higuain’s lawyer’s argued the player had merely suggested to the referee that his decision had been “shameful”.
Napoli later said they were “extremely disappointed”.
“We take note of the decision..and see that it lacked the necessary courage to really shed light on this and do justice to the player,” the club announced in a statement.
He is the top Serie A scorer with 30 goals this term, and will miss this weekend’s clash at Inter Milan and next week’s game with Bologna.
But the fiery Argentine will now be back for the game with currently third-placed Roma on April 25 (the 35th of 38 league games) as second-placed Napoli chase a first Serie A title since Diego Maradona played his penultimate season at the club in 1990.
While Napoli face tough competition this weekend with a trip to fourth-placed Inter, league leaders Juventus are fully expected to stretch their unbeaten run to 23 league games against a Palermo side that is in full crisis mode.