Barcelona's Gerard Pique fails in appeal over ban for insulting linesman

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique's appeal against his ban for insulting a linesman during the recent Spanish Supercopa defeat to Athletic Bilbao has been turned down, meaning the centre-back will still miss his team's upcoming La Liga games against Malaga, Atletico Madrid and Levante.

Pique, 28, was red-carded by referee Carlos Velasco Carballo during the second half of the return Spanish Super Cup game at the Camp Nou, with TV pictures showing him angrily protesting an offside call in the face of a linesman as Barca were on their way to a 5-1 aggregate defeat.

The Spanish federation originally handed down a four-match ban for the offence, after Velasco Carballo wrote in his report that Pique had shouted "I s--- on your f---ing mother" at the assistant referee.

The Spain international subsequently apologised for his behaviour, while claiming not to have personally insulted the official. And Barca decided to appeal to try and get the ban reduced -- in the hope of freeing Pique to play in Sept. 12's big La Liga game at Atletico Madrid.

However, the Spanish FA (RFEF) has turned down that appeal, saying that the argument presented by the Catalan club "has no consistency at all."

The body said: "First, because it contains incomplete images, in which you can easily see the lack of continuity between them. And secondly, because it is clear that the person who can hear the insult, without doubt, is the assistant referee, which not even the appealing party disputes."

Pique had already missed the 1-0 La Liga opening weekend win at Athletic last Sunday, and is now set to again be sidelined for the clash with Malaga at the Camp Nou on Saturday, then the game at the Estadio Vicente Calderon directly after the international break, and the home fixture with Levante a week later.

Ex-Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen started at centre-back in the victory at San Mames, and impressed many Blaugrana fans and pundits with his display, so the Belgium international is perhaps set to keep his place against Malaga.

Dani Alves is definitely out of that game with an adductor strain, so La Masia midfielder Sergi Roberto, 23, will deputise at right-back.

Sergio Busquets looks to have overcome an ankle knock, however, and should be okay to start in midfield, while Neymar has returned to full training following a bout of the mumps and looks sure to start his first game of 2015-16 in attack.