MOSCOW (AP) Zenit St. Petersburg coach Andre Villas-Boas was suspended for six games by the Russian Football Union on Thursday for striking a match official.
After Villas-Boas was sent off during a 3-1 loss at home to Krylya Sovetov Samara on Saturday in the Russian Premier League, he was caught swearing in Russian on the TV broadcast as he confronted fourth official Ivan Saraev, and they appeared to butt heads.
However, disciplinary commission head Artur Grigoryants said Villas-Boas ”left his technical area and hit the fourth official in the chest,” in comments to Russian agency R-Sport. That incident was not shown on TV.
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Villas-Boas has refused to comment publicly on the incident, but Grigoryants said the coach apologized to the match officials on duty at Saturday’s game, admitted ”he had a temporary loss of control, and said he didn’t have the right to behave like that.”
The Portuguese coach’s suspension will end on Oct. 30, meaning he misses a game against league leader CSKA Moscow on Sept. 12. The ban comes as Zenit struggles on the field, sitting third in the Russian league, six points off CSKA, following defeats in two of its last three league games.
Villas-Boas previously coached Chelsea and Tottenham before winning the Russian title last season in his first full season with Zenit. He has persistently criticized the Russian football authorities over issues such as fan racism and poor-quality pitches.
Villas-Boas has hinted at a possible exit from Zenit, saying last week that he wanted to leave the club at the end of last season but the management would not allow him to go.