Manuel Pellegrini Sorry for Referee Attack After Manchester City vs. Barcelona

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini waits to answer questions during a press conference at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Monday Feb. 17, 2014. Manchester City will play Barcelona on Tuesday in a Champions League first knock out round soccer match. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Updates from Friday, Feb. 21

Manuel Pellegrini offered an apology to referee Jonas Eriksson on Friday following his post-game comments that landed him in trouble with UEFA.

Pellegrini said Eriksson was not impartial in Manchester City's loss to Barcelona, but explained on Friday his comments were said in the heat of the moment, per the BBC's Alistair Magowan:

Associated Press reporter Rob Harris confirmed that Pelligrini will be charged:

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini charged with misconduct by UEFA over his referee outburst. Case will be heard next Friday

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) February 21, 2014

UEFA confirmed on its website:

Following an investigation by the UEFA disciplinary inspector, UEFA has today opened disciplinary proceedings against Manuel Pellegrini concerning the press interviews given to media after the above-mentioned match.

The Manchester City coach is charged wth violation of the general principles of conduct (Art.11 of the 2013 UEFA Disciplinary Regulations).

Updates from Thursday, Feb. 20

The Press Association (via The Guardian) confirms Manuel Pellegrini will be investigated for his comments following Manchester City's loss to Barcelona:

"UEFA has mandated a disciplinary inspector to commence an investigation concerning the press interviews given by the Manchester City FC head coach Manuel Luis Pellegrini to media after the above-mentioned match," a UEFA statement said.

"Based on the outcome of this investigation, a decision will be taken on whether disciplinary proceedings will be opened."


Original Text

Manchester City face an untenable climb after their 2-0 loss to Barcelona in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, and Manuel Pellegrini knows exactly who is to blame. It's just not anyone on his or Barca's roster.    

In a surprising postgame tirade that will unquestionably draw the ire of many, Pellegrini went off on the officials he felt cost his club a vital match. The Chilean, obviously fired up, opened his postgame presser with a comment deriding the official's lack of impartiality, per Daniel Taylor of The Guardian

Pellegrini was incensed by a number of calls, but the impetus for his anger was likely the call that arguably set up Barcelona's victory. In the 54th minute, Lionel Messi was awarded a penalty kick after being tackled inside the box by Martin Demichelis. Not only did Messi net the resultant opportunity, but Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson's decision to send off Demichelis left City playing a man down.

Though the match remained well-contested despite the circumstances, Barcelona held possession and shut the door with a Dani Alves strike in the 90th minute. Ian Herbert of The Independent noted Pellegrini was not happy with the decision, which he saw as putting the match in his—and not the players'—hands:

Pellegrini suggested that call and others were an attempt to make up for his poor performance in a previous Barcelona match, per Mike Keegan of the Manchester Evening News. He also suggested it was a poor decision to have Eriksson, a Swede, officiate such a high-profile match, per Taylor:

While that quote may be taken as slightly xenophobic by some, Pellegrini's suggestion that a Swede should not have handled Tuesday's match was likely more of a comment on his experience. The highest levels of Swedish football, where Eriksson typically officiates, are not typically under as much scrutiny as an official from top European leagues like Serie A or Ligue 1.

Jon Super/Associated Press

Mike Keegan of the Manchester Evening News provides more details about the extent of the impact Pellegrini believes the referee had:

Pellegrini's decision to speak out publicly may put him in bad standing with UEFA, the governing body that handles the Champions League. Managers are typically asked to keep their complaints about officiating by rule, and those who do not comply are subject to punishment. It would be a mild surprise to see Pellegrini's comments go without at least a fine.

Should UEFA decide it wants to go a step further, a ban would not be unprecedented—especially considering the unfiltered nature of Pellegrini's comments.

Already in a deep hole after giving up two goals at Etihad Stadium, a ban for the second leg at Camp Nou March 12 could be the death knell for City's Champions League hopes. They are already facing arguably the most talented club in the world on their home ground. To be without their manager would only make the odds even more insurmountable.

With Pellegrini already having an up-and-down Premier League season, his latest outburst is not a good look. But before he can properly gauge the reaction with City supporters, it's likely UEFA will want an explanation.


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