Manchester City Manager Pellegrini Banned for Referee Criticism

Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini was banned from the touchline for three games by UEFA after criticizing the referee who oversaw his side’s 2-0 home loss to Barcelona in the Champions League last week.

European soccer’s governing body said he’d violated “the general principles of conduct.” The punishment will cover the return leg with Barcelona on March 12. One match of the ban from European matches is suspended for two years.

Pellegrini told reporters following the Feb. 18 game that Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson wasn’t “impartial.” He said he’d spoken to the official 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.

“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 later apologized for his comments.

“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,” UEFA said in a statement today. Pellegrini can appeal the decision.

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