UEFA hits Manuel Pellegrini with ban

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has been given a three-match ban by UEFA, with one of those games suspended for two years, after he criticised referee Jonas Eriksson following his side’s Champions League defeat to Barcelona.

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A furious Pellegrini accused Eriksson, a Swedish official, of being biased and influencing the game as 10-man City lost 2-0 to Barca in their last-16 first-leg tie at the Etihad Stadium on Feb. 18.

The Chilean was angry that the referee sent off defender Martin Demichelis and awarded a penalty, which Lionel Messi converted to open the scoring, and claimed Eriksson should never have been appointed for the match because of where he hails from.

“The referee did not have any control of the game," Pellegrini said afterwards. "He decided for Barcelona from the beginning to the end. I think it was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in such an important match and a referee who made a mistake against Barcelona in the group stages.”

Pellegrini did apologise to UEFA earlier this month for his comments, however, European football’s governing body has decided to take action, with the City boss set to miss the second leg at the Camp Nou as well as a possible quarterfinal first leg.

A statement released on its official website on Friday read: “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 Feb. 18 in England.

“As a result, the City manager will be banned for his team's round of 16 second leg against Barcelona in Spain on March 12. This means that Pellegrini may follow the game from the stands only; he may not enter the dressing room, tunnel or technical area before or during the match; and he may not communicate directly or indirectly with his players and/or technical staff during the game (Article 62(1) DR).

“The above decision is open to appeal (Article 54).”