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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Barthez banned for three months
France and Marseille goalkeeper Fabien Barthez
Fabien Barthez has been banned for three-months for spitting at a Moroccan referee when Marseille played in Casablanca in a friendly in February.

The match between Olympique and Wydad Casablanca was stopped after the 33-year-old spat at Abdellah El Achiri.

"He didn't spit in his face but he certainly did spit at the official," said French Federation disciplinary committee chairman Jean Mazzella.

The France keeper's ban will be doubled if he commits any further offences.

Barthez could have been suspended for as long as one year, a punishment that would have almost certainly resulted in him calling forward his retirement date.

However, the former Manchester United stopper has announced he intends to carry on playing and quit, as he previously announced, following the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

During these three months I will carry on working as I have done since I was 18
Fabien Barthez

The ban deprives Marseille of their goalkeeper as they try to pull out of a slump and hang onto the third qualifying spot in the French league for next season's Champions League.

But it has no impact on the national team with the qualifying camaign resuming in September with key away matches in Ireland and Switzerland.

He could also be called up for a friendly against Argentina in Paris on 17 August.

"I knew I'd be sanctioned," Barthez said.

"During these three months I will carry on working as I have done since I was 18.

"I'll prepare for the next season with Olympique Marseille and get ready for the national team because my goal is to play in the World Cup."

Barthez ran off the bench to confront el-Achiri in the 80th minute of a match that featured numerous illegal tackles and arguments.

Video replays clearly show Barthez raising his arms toward the referee - although no physical contact was made - and then spitting on him.

Barthez has won 73 caps since his debut against Australia in May 1994, making him the longest serving French goalkeeper and he featured in the winning sides at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

At club level he won the European Cup with Marseille in 1993.


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