MILAN: Gonzalo Higuain will pay for a moment of madness during Napoli's title-crushing 3-1 defeat to Udinese by serving a four-game Serie A ban, a report in Italy claimed on Monday.
If confirmed, Higuain, the driving force behind Napoli's bid for a first title in 26 years, would miss their two most difficult games, away to Inter Milan and Roma, amid an already challenging run-in for the Azzurri.
Reports earlier on Monday suggested Higuain's violent reaction near the end of a bad-tempered clash at the Stadio Friuli on Sunday would earn him a "minimum" three-game ban.
Higuain scores twice as Napoli cement top spot
But a later report on gazzetta.it affirmed that "disciplinary chief Gianpaolo Tosel will tomorrow (Tuesday) hand a four-game ban to Higuain and a one-game touchline ban to (Napoli coach Maurizio) Sarri".
The report suggested Higuain had "gotten off lightly" thanks to referee Massimiliano Irrati not applying the full letter of the law in his match report.
If Napoli's title bid falters, Higuain's moment of madness will bear at least some of the blame.
Higuain hit his 30th league goal of the campaign to pull to within five goals of retired AC Milan striker Gunnar Nordahl's all-time record of 35 goals in a single, 20-team Serie A season.
Higuain keeps Napoli on Juventus’ heels
But Udinese took a 3-1 lead by the 57th minute as tensions mounted.
After a challenge on Felipe in the 75th minute, Higuain was issued a second caution resulting in a red card, and he lost the plot.
Higuain confronted Irrati, pushed him and launched a verbal tirade inches away from the referee's face. Pulled away, he then had to be restrained by fellow players as he tried to angrily remonstrate with Udinese players.
Defeat left Napoli six points adrift of leaders Juventus. A four-game ban would severely dent Napoli's chances of closing the gap and snatching a first league title since Diego Maradona played his penultimate season at the club in 1990.
Napoli coach Sarri, who was sent to the stands for dissent, is set for a one-game ban, added the report.