Chelsea should be thrown out of Europe next season
The club’s disgraceful behaviour in last week’s semi-final against Barcelona must be punished with Uefa’s ultimate sanction
While Darren Fletcher and Eric Abidal will be aggrieved to have had their red cards upheld by Uefa yesterday, at least it showed some rational thinking going on at European football's ruling body, argues Richard Williams in the Guardian.
"If this season's endless disputes over refereeing decisions have taught football fans one lesson, it is that the officials' job is getting harder and that - with the single exception of goalline cameras - no amount of technology will make an acceptable difference to the business of ensuring the right decisions are made." Indeed to remove the ultimate authority of the officials by overturning their decisions with the benefit of this technology "would invite anarchy".
"Every television camera in London seemed to be in use at the Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge last week" and yet there is still reasonable doubt about whether either decision was a genuine red or not.
"Did the way Fletcher's foot tangle with Cesc Fabregas's legs constitute a foul? Did Abidal's leg brush against those of Nicolas Anelka? In each case, the referee had a couple of seconds to assess the evidence and to make his decision. And, significantly, on neither occasion could any amount of television evidence settle the argument," says Williams.
What didn't make either referee's night easier was the players' behaviour. The histrionics of Didier Drogba and his Chelsea teammates should be "sanctioned" by Uefa. "The withdrawal of Chelsea's invitation to next season's Champions League, taking tens of millions of pounds in revenue along with it, would soon persuade them to find a way of curbing their players' excesses, and others would follow their example."
In a conclusion that will make Williams few friends in SW6, he says: "If Chelsea's players and managerial staff are reluctant to abandon the exaggerated sense of grievance instilled and fostered by Jose Mourinho's regime, they will have to be taught a lesson." ·
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