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Ronaldo three-match ban upheld

Real Madrid's appeal against the three-match ban imposed on Cristiano Ronaldo after his sending off at Athletic Bilbao has been turned down.

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However, the club are set to take the case still further by petitioning a Spanish government body in a new effort to get the punishment overturned.

On Wednesday, Spain’s competition committee decided on a three-game punishment for Ronaldo -- one game for raising a hand during a confrontation with Athletic’s Carlos Gurpegi and Ander Iturraspe and two for a gesture made as he left the field.

The verdict was confirmed by the appeals committee on Friday, with the authorities agreeing that the gesture made was a show of disrespect worthy of extra sanction.

But Madrid are reportedly angry about how the matter has been handled and feel it is representative of substandard management of disciplinary matters in La Liga. They are reportedly set to appeal to Spain’s Committee for Discipline in Sports, an arm of the government-run Sports Council.

Club officials are said to be unhappy that referee Miguel Angel Ayza Gamez was allowed -- unusually -- to make corrections to his report after Madrid had presented their defence of Ronaldo and say the authorities could have thrown the case out because of technical errors.

However, Ayza Gamez will not referee for four weeks and will probably not officiate at the Bernabeu for the rest of the season – something Real feel strengthens their case that an injustice has occurred.

They are reportedly keen to use the controversy to push for changes in how referees are selected and managed in La Liga -- but some observers have pointed out that while the decision to send off Ronaldo was debatable, his angry reaction left little room for the authorities.

Ronaldo’s camp told AS he felt “upset and sad” about the punishment. He is banned for Saturday’s La Liga game against Villarreal at the Bernabeu, the trip to Getafe a week later and the home game against Elche on Feb. 22.

However, he can play in Tuesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal second leg at Atletico Madrid, and should return to Liga action against the same opponents on March 2.

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