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Barthez banned for spitting at ref

Olympique de Marseille goalkeeper Fabien Barthez has been suspended for six months for spitting at a referee.

Three months to serve
The ban was awarded by the FFF's central disciplinary committee following a personal hearing on Thursday evening. However, Barthez will serve only three months of the sanction, with the other three months suspended subject to good behaviour.

Match abandoned
It relates to events at Marseille's match against WAC Casablanca in Morocco on 12 February which was called off after 80 minutes because of the violent conduct of the teams. The referee's report filed by match official Abdellah el-Achiri, and backed up by television images, said that Barthez spat at and insulted the referee.

Final appearance
Barthez will be suspended from 25 April until 25 July, meaning his last appearance of the season will be in Saturday's away game against FC Nantes Atlantique. Marseille lie third in Ligue 1, in a UEFA Champions League qualifying place. The 33-year-old's enforced absence will not affect France's FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, however, with Les Bleus not in action again until September.

'Get ready for next season'
The goalkeeper said: "I will carry on working as I have done since the age of 18. I will prepare to be ready to play for Olympique de Marseille and the national team next season, because I aim to go to the [2006 FIFA] World Cup and want France to be there." Barthez had said in an interview on 24 March that he did not regret his behaviour, but recently retracted that statement.

Appeal lodged
On Friday evening, however, the FFF announced in statement that it had decided to appeal because its federal council disagreed with the sanction decided by the ruling body's disciplinary committee. Under FFF rules, the offence committed by Barthez should be punished by a firm ban of at least six months, the statement said.