Champions League

Wenger demands apology

2011-03-10 17:39
Arsene Wenger (File)

London - Arsene Wenger has launched an astonishing attack on UEFA as the Arsenal manager demanded an apology for Robin van Persie's controversial red card against Barcelona.

Wenger is still furious that referee Massimo Busacca sent off Van Persie for a second booking when the Dutch forward fired a shot wide one second after the whistle blew for offside in Tuesday's Champions League last 16, second leg at the Nou Camp.

Arsenal were ahead on aggregate at the time but went on to lose the match and the tie and an irate Wenger was involved in a confrontation with Busacca in the tunnel after the final whistle.

UEFA responded by hitting Wenger and Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri with improper conduct charges for "inappropriate language" towards the Swiss official.

But Wenger believes it is UEFA who should be apologising to him for Busacca's decision and their refusal to acknowledge the referee made a mistake.

"I deny completely any charge. It is the kind of thing that is difficult to understand because it was a shame the referee took the wrong decision to send off Robin Van Persie," Wenger said on Thursday.

"A bit more humility would do UEFA some good, to apologise for what happened would be much better than charge people who did nothing wrong.

"UEFA should have a little bit of a low profile after what happened on Tuesday. It would be more sensible and adapted to what happened.

"This decision frustrated us and everyone who loves football. The first leg was fantastic but the second leg has been destroyed and the only thing people remember is the sending off."

Wenger is clearly still seething over the perceived injustice of Van Persie's dismissal and the damage it did to Arsenal's hopes of upsetting Barcelona.

The Frenchman risked landing himself in further trouble as he accused the European game's governing body of arrogance and acting like a dictatorship.

"They (UEFA) do not punish me. It is Arsenal Football Club who has been punished," he said. "We are out of the Champions League and have lost one of our big ambitions, and on top of that we have to say sorry to UEFA when we have done nothing wrong. They organise the competition and decide what referees come to games.

"When you have a game of that stature, you can't come out with decisions like that and show a lot of arrogance on top of that.

"We all understand people make wrong decisions but after that it becomes dictatorship. It is not commonsense any more"

Wenger also hinted that Busacca had used some choice language of his own when he responded to the Arsenal manager's comments in the tunnel.

"If UEFA really want to know, I will have some interesting statements to make about statements from people who were not supposed to say what they said," he added.

"I don't want to go public about it. You can look at all my comments in the media after matches and I have never said what happened in the tunnel."

Wenger remains convinced Arsenal could have gone through if Van Persie had stayed on the field, even though official UEFA statistics showed that his team failed to muster a single shot on target.

"We were dominated, we don't deny that, but Barcelona had just two shots on goal in the first half. They had a very sterile domination," Wenger said.

"A lot of Champions League matches are decided in the last few minutes and we would have had chances if Van Persie had not been sent off."

Wenger knows his biggest challenge now is to persuade his players they can still win a trophy for the first time in six years.

They face Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals at Old Trafford on Saturday and are just three points behind Sir Alex Ferguson's side in the Premier League.

Wenger said: "We are disappointed but we have big targets in front of us and it is part of our job to live with these kind of problems.

"We want to deal well with the psychological. For us Saturday's match has a big significance of course."

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