Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini was handed a three-match ban by UEFA for his actions during the club's first-leg Champions League encounter with Barcelona. The suspension is subject to appeal, but it could force him to miss the second leg.
UEFA made the announcement on its official site. The ban is linked to Article 11 of the association's disciplinary regulations in regard to comments he made to the media about the match:
UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Body has suspended Manchester City FC manager Manuel Pellegrini for three UEFA competition matches, one of which is under probation for two years.
The sanction is due to the coach's press statements and violation of the general principles of conduct under Article 11 of the 2013 UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR) at the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg between Manchester City and FC Barcelona on 18 February in England.
Should Pellegrini opt against appealing the decision or it's upheld before the March 12 clash, he will not be allowed in the locker room, tunnel or technical area before or during the match, according to the statement. He would only be able to observe it from the stands.
Barcelona won the first leg 2-0 on goals from Lionel Messi, who converted on a controversial penalty kick, and Dani Alves.
Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph passed along comments the manager made after the match that got him in hot water with UEFA, leading to the ban:
It was not a penalty, it was outside the box. The important mistake is the foul against Navas. The second mistake was the penalty. But it was from the beginning. Barcelona did not have chances before the goal. It was a pity because that important action decided the game. I told him he decided the game. I was not happy. He did not have any control of the game. He favoured Barcelona from the beginning to the end. I do not think it was a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in charge and a referee who made a mistake against Barcelona in the group stages.
Richard Jolly of ESPN noted Pellegrini later apologized for those comments and attempted to clarify what he originally said:
When you lose a game the way we lost against Barcelona, you are frustrated, you are angry. Maybe I said some things I didn't mean in that way so I apologise for what I said.
Also I want to clarify what I said: I didn't make any serious accusations about anyone, not about the referee, not about UEFA, not about anyone. I said the referee decided the match because he decided the match. He didn't give us a foul against Navas and after came the penalty against Martin Demichelis and we had a player sent off.
The apology clearly wasn't enough.
Now that UEFA made its decision, all eyes shift to Pellegrini to see what he's going to do. Deciding not to appeal guarantees he won't be able to assist as City try to erase the two-goal deficit at Camp Nou.
Although it's certainly an uphill battle, it's not impossible.
While UEFA decided Pellegrini crossed the line with his remarks, he was right to say the penalty decision changed the match. City were staying with Barcelona until Messi connected on the penalty, which changed the course of the action.
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