MADRID — Cristiano Ronaldo has bitterly criticized his five-game suspension for pushing a referee who had sent him off, describing the ban as "persecution."
Ronaldo wrote on his Instagram account on Wednesday that "it is impossible to remain silent in this situation, 5 games!! It seems exaggerated and ridiculous to me, this is called persecution!"
Ronaldo's outburst came after the Spanish soccer federation ratified his suspension, which was announced on Monday.
The Real Madrid forward missed the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup that the team won over Barcelona.
He will also miss the first four matches of the Spanish league, which Madrid opens on Sunday at Deportivo La Coruna.
Ronaldo was suspended for one match after being sent off during Sunday's first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Spanish media reports said Madrid appealed Ronaldo's second yellow card, when the Portugal forward was booked for diving.
Ronaldo was given an additional four-match ban for shoving the referee in the back after he was shown the red card.
Ronaldo concluded his Instagram message with "Thanks to my teammates and fans for their support."
The message was accompanied by a photo of the moment when referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea showed Ronaldo the red card.
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has also criticized the extended ban of his best player.