Asian player of the year Abdelkarim Hassan banned 5 months for ref spat

Asia's reigning player of the year has been banned for five months for confronting a referee in the Asian Champions League semifinals.

The Asian Football Confederation banned Abdelkarim Hassan, the left-back of Qatari champion Al Sadd, from all their club competitions until March 20 -- a punishment of just three matches overall.

FIFA said Hassan will be able to play at the Club World Cup in Qatar in December, which will include Al Sadd. He can also play in domestic games.

Hassan reacted aggressively, and vehemently argued with the match official after being shown a yellow card for a foul in the 35th minute of Al Sadd's 4-1 first-leg loss to Saudi club Al Hilal in Doha on Oct. 1. The prolonged protest earned him a red card.

The AFC says the defender "was expelled by the referee for an act of violent conduct against a match official."

The five-month ban removes Hassan from this year's Asian Champions League -- in which they have been eliminated -- and three group games in the 2020 edition. Al Sadd, who is managed by former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi, already qualified for the Champions League as Qatar league champion, which also earned them a Club World Cup place as the host nation's domestic title winner.

Hassan won the AFC's 2018 award as the best player based in Asia. He helped Qatar win the 2019 Asian Cup in February and played in the 2019 Copa America in Brazil.

The Associated Press and ESPN FC correspondent John Duerden contributed to this report.