Maybe he was just looking for some sympathy after a crushing defeat but Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini will face the music following his post-match criticism of Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson.
European football’s governing body UEFA have charged the Argentine manager with misconduct for his comments made after his team fell 2-0 to Barcelona in the first round of Champions League Round of 16 action at the Etihad on Tuesday, February 18.
“Following an investigation by the UEFA disciplinary inspector, UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Manuel Luis Pellegrini concerning the press interviews given to media after the above-mentioned match,” the statement said. “The Manchester City head coach is charged for violation of the general principles of conduct.”
Eriksson ejected City defender Martin Demichelis for poorly timed slide tackle on Barcelona striker Lionel Messi in the 54th minute.
Television replays appeared to show DeMichelis’ challenge occurring outside the penalty area, but Eriksson ruled the offence took place inside the box and thus pointed to the spot.
Judge for yourself if Messi was fouled inside the penalty area:
The replay shows the foul occurred right on the line or just slightly outside the box, but his decision is not surprising considering he was trailing the play and behind both players when he made the call.
It is worth noting that in most cases fouls deemed to be on the line are often ruled outside the penalty areas in the majority of cases.
No doubt City and Barcelona fans both have their own interpretations on how the FIFA rules should be applied to this incident. We would love to hear your input on UEFA’s decision to charge Pellegrini and Eriksson’s decision.
Barcelona took a 1- 0 lead after Messi converted.
The return leg will be played at the Nou Camp in Barcelona on March 12.
Pellegrini blasted Eriksson saying “From the beginning I felt the referee was not impartial to both teams.”
“I think it was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in charge of such an important match, especially a referee who has made an important mistake against Barcelona in a previous match,” said Pellegrini.
Pellegrini went on to unload further on Eriksson.
“[It’s] more important football in Europe than Sweden. A big game with two important teams, that kind of game needs a referee with more experience.”
His comments after the match drew criticism of Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets.
— RedCardEditor (@RedCardTheRef1) February 21, 2014
Pellegrini’s comments were all the more troubling considering the fact that Sweden aren’t exactly a football backwater. Hey Manuel what gives?
Sweden has produced some fantastic world class players over the years including strikers Zlaten Ibrahimovic, Henrik Larsson, winger Fredrik Ljungberg, and goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli.
The nation hosted the 1958 World Cup and It’s top-flight division the Allsvenskan has been operating since 1924. One of its most storied clubs Malmo were UEFA Champions Cup runners up in 1979 when they lost to England’s Nottingham Forest.
Aside from going against FIFA’s Fair Play and UEFA’s Respect mandates, his comments could lead to future problems with Eriksson if he is assigned to call another Manchester City game and the coach face the wrath from other referees in future matches.
In his own way, Pellegrini apologized for his statements on Friday but his sincerity was not 100 per cent convincing.
“When you lose a game the way we lost, you are frustrated, angry,” Pellegrini said. “Maybe I say some things I didn’t mean in that way so I apologize. I want to clarify what I said, I didn’t make any serious accusations, not to the referee, to UEFA. I say the referee decided the match because he didn’t give us a foul against [Jesús] Navas and after came the penalty against Martín Demichelis and we had one player sent off.”
In his apology Pellegrini appeared to make an attempt to smooth over his harsh words about Swedish football but in the end came off exhibiting a more damning criticism, and lack of knowledge, about the level of play in Sweden.
“The second thing that is also not the way, I think, is to say because he was always refereeing in the Swedish league that maybe it was better for so important a game to have another kind of referee. It is not an offence to Sweden or the Swedish people or referees. I didn’t say any serious accusation about Sweden, just that it was not the most important league in Europe and that is not an offence, I think.”