A Liga MX referee picked up a 12-match ban for kneeing a player in the the groin. The incident occurred in the second half of a heated matchup between Club America and Leon on Saturday. Match referee Fernando Hernandez handed out six yellow cards in the game and even sent off both managers.

Leon players surrounded Hernandez following a game-tying goal by America. The players frantically asked the referee to review the goal, as they thought it should have been chalked off. As Hernandez brandished a yellow card, he moved towards Leon midfielder Lucas Romero and kneed him in the groin. Romero immediately went down in pain after the contact.

Liga MX referee spoke to player before ban came out

Following the match, Hernandez apologized to everyone involved.

“To the fans and public in general, I offer an apology, as well as to Romero, for my reaction,” said the referee. “I would never attack him or any other player. I am aware of this and I will abide by the decision of the Disciplinary Commission.”

Despite the clear malicious intent by Hernandez, Romero was understanding of the the referee in this post-game interview. The Argentine even labeled the incident a misunderstanding and didn’t call for Hernandez to be punished.

“Obviously [referees] are human beings, many times they can make mistakes and those mistakes end up developing what happened, a lot of misunderstandings,” Romero explained to TUDN.

Romero also given ban for actions prior to episode

Nevertheless, Hernandez will now miss a dozen Liga MX matches. Romero also earned a two-match suspension for his involvement.

The contentious match eventually ended level, as former Arsenal winger Joel Campbell netted the game-tying goal for Leon in added time. The late goal kept Leon ahead of America in the Mexican top flight table.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Agencia-MexSport