Eto'o banned for three matches for head butt
Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o was banned for three matches Tuesday for head-butting Chievo Verona defender Bostjan Cesar, handing another big blow to the struggling European champions.
The referee did not sanction Eto'o during Sunday's game but league officials used TV replays to decide the ban. Eto'o was also fined 30,000 euros ($40,000) for the act reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane's incident with Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final.
The incident occurred in the 38th minute when Cesar threw a weak punch that hit Eto'o in the face. The Cameroon international jogged away before turning around and head-butting Cesar in the chest.
Cesar was not punished for his involvement, while Inter said it would appeal the decision.
With 18 goals in all competitions this season, Eto'o has been one of the few bright spots for Inter, which has had to cope with injuries to several key players and is currently nine points behind city rival and Serie A leader AC Milan.
Fellow striker Diego Milito has struggled with form and injuries this season and defenders Maicon, Walter Samuel and Cristian Chivu, plus midfielders Coutinho and Thiago Motta, are currently out injured.
"Eto'o has enough experience and he himself knows he made a mistake," Inter captain Javier Zanetti said. "We didn't need this, especially now with so few men available. He made a big mistake and he's going to be punished for it."
League judge Gianpaolo Tosel described the head butt as fitting into the "extremes of violent conduct."
Eto'o will miss Inter's next games against Parma and Lazio and won't play again in Serie A until next year since Inter will travel to the United Arab Emirates for the Club World Cup next month.
The third match that Eto'o will miss is unclear because several of Inter's matches have been postponed to undetermined dates.
It's the second time this season that a key player in Serie A has been banned with the use of TV replays. Juventus winger Milos Krasic was banned for two matches last month for diving to earn a penalty.
Two years ago, Fiorentina forward Alberto Gilardino received a two-game ban for scoring a goal with his hand.
Also Tuesday, Lecce forward Ernesto Chevanton was hit with a five-match ban for kicking an opponent violently and then taking off his jersey and waving it at the referee in protest during a 3-2 loss to Sampdoria.
In addition, Fiorentina defender Per Kroldrup was banned for two games for insulting the referee.