The Romanian football federation announced Wednesday that ASA Targu Mures midfielder Gabriel Muresan has been banned an unprecedented 16 games for a tackle that nearly caused an opponent to lose sight in his eye, according to Reuters.
In a game against Steaua Bucharest on Oct. 26, Muresan struck Steaua striker Raul Rusescu in the eye with his elbow during a tackle attempt. The hit fractured the zygomatic bone in Rusescu's eye socket, forcing him to undergo surgery.
Muresan, who received a yellow card for the tackle, was also fined $25,000 lei (about $7,200) for the hit, which will keep Rusescu out until at least January.
Two other Steaua players were injured by fouls before the 29th minute, including Claudiu Keseru, who sustained a concussion on a hit from ASA midfielder Ousmane N’Doye. N'Doye was suspended six games for his tackle.
“It’s a drastic decision, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Targu Mures’s general director Daniel Stanciu told local media, according to Reuters. “How a player can be suspended for 16 matches since he wasn’t even sent off?“
“And I don’t understand N’Doye’s ban too. We’ll appeal.“
According to Reuters, Romanian media heavily criticized referee Istvan Kovacs for giving just a yellow card to Muresan, for not controlling the game enough to prevent the other reckless challenges and for other errors. One of Romania's most popular newspapers rated the referees zero out of 10 for their performance.
Muresan is in his first season with ASA. He also made nine appearances for the Romanian national team from 2007-11.
ASA won the game 1-0, marking the first time Steaua lost an away game since November 2012.
Steaua, Liga I's most successful club and winners of 25 league titles, including the last two, is currently in first place in the league table with 31 points in 13 games. ASA is in fifth with 23 points.
- Ben Estes