Thu, May 07, 2009
Sports > Soccer

Drogba faces rap over ref confrontation

2009-05-07 02:21:30 GMT2009-05-07 10:21:30 (Beijing Time)

Chelsea's Didier Drogba (L) vies for the ball against Barcelona's Yaya Toure during the second leg UEFA Champions League semi-final football match at Stamford Bridge in London. Drogba could be facing a lengthy ban from European football after angrily confronting Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo at the end of Chelsea's controversial Champions League semi-final second leg match with Barcelona.(Agencies)

Didier Drogba could be facing a lengthy ban from European football after angrily confronting Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo at the end of Chelsea's controversial Champions League semi-final second leg match with Barcelona here on Wednesday.

A stoppage time goal from Andres Iniesta earned Barca a 1-1 draw on the night and on aggregate and sent the Catalans into a final meeting with Manchester United at the end of this month on the away goals rule.

Chelsea had legitimate grounds for complaint after being denied at least two good penalty appeals by the referee - who was still considered good enough by UEFA to officiate at last year's Euro 2008 championships - but that will not be regarded as any excuse by UEFA when they come to judge Drogba's conduct.

Ovrebo had to be escorted from the pitch by a platoon of stewards with Drogba apparently bent on a physical confrontation.

To compound his intimidating behaviour, the Ivory Coast international then turned to a television camera and screamed into it, describing the official as a "f-ing disgrace."

Chelsea are also likely to be in hot water with UEFA after infuriated fans threw flags at the officials and the Barcelona bench on the final whistle.

However, Drogba is unlikely to be punished by his club as manager Guus Hiddink said he understood that emotions after such a match run high.

"I can fully understand the players reaction as long as they don't touch him (the referee)," said Hiddink, who won the European Cup - the predecessor of the Champions League - with PSV Eindhoven.

"Emotions are running high as they have seen several occasions the referee turn down appeals.

"There is loads of energy and adrenalin out there."

The Dutchman, though, stopped short of backing up claims by Chelsea players that they had been conspired against by UEFA, who did not want a second successive all-English final.

"Yeah, well you can never prove this. It was said out of emotion.

"Three occasions they saw that no penalty was awarded, like for instance when (Florent) Malouda) was grabbed inside the box...that was a clear penalty."

Hiddink, who has insisted that he is just a temporary replacement for the sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari and will return to coach Russia at the end of the season, said that whilst the penalties should have been awarded, his team also had to accept they had other chances slip by - most notably Drogba scuffing a chance in the second-half.

"I am still very disappointed but it is not easy to analyse a game when the adrenalin is still flowing.

"We should have scored in certain open situations.

"However, there were three clear penalties. The boys feel - well I won't say what they really feel - that it was an injustice.

"One should ask UEFA why they put this referee in to run this game. Yes the red card for (Barcelona defender) Eric Abidal was difficult to call but there was a clear handball by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.

"If the referee was blocked off from seeing it clearly he always has the assistant referee to consult with. The Drogba shirtpulling incident in the second-half, well we can let that one go because that cancels out the Thierry Henry moment in the first leg (Henry was fouled in the area but Barcelona didn't get a penalty)."

Pique, who most likely will play against his former club Manchester United in the final as Barcelona will be missing three first choice defenders in Abidal, fellow fullback Daniel Alves and the injured Rafael Marquez, for his part admitted the ball had hit his arm.

"The ball touched my arm. The referee decided it wasn't a penalty and one has to respect the referee's decisions."


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