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UEFA Charges Man. City Coach for Criticizing Official

UEFA charged Manuel Pellegrini after the Manchester City coach criticized the referee who oversaw his side’s 2-0 home loss to Barcelona in soccer’s Champions League this week.

The sport’s European governing body said in an e-mailed statement that Pellegrini “is charged for violation of the general principles of conduct.”

Pellegrini, who’s been coach of the Premier League side since last year, told reporters following the Feb. 18 game that referee Jonas Eriksson wasn’t “impartial.” He said he’d spoken to Eriksson at full-time to tell him “he must be very happy, because he decided the game.”

With the round-of-16 encounter poised at 0-0, Eriksson dismissed City defender Martin Demichelis for a foul on Lionel Messi and awarded a penalty. Television replays showed the foul may have been just outside the penalty area.

Messi converted the spot-kick and Dani Alves added a late goal to put the Spanish team in control of the two-leg tie. The clubs meet again in Barcelona on March 12.

“He decided for Barcelona from the beginning until the end,” Pellegrini said at the post-match news conference. The Chilean added that the match should have been overseen by a more experienced official from a more important soccer nation.

Pellegrini today apologized for his comments.

“When you lose a game the way we lost against Barcelona, you are frustrated, you are angry,” he said, speaking at a news conference ahead of City’s Premier League match against Stoke tomorrow. “Maybe I said some things I didn’t mean, so I apologize for what I said.”

UEFA said the case will be dealt with on Feb. 28.

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