Soccer

UEFA reduce Drogba ban

2009-07-15 19:18
Didier Drogba (AFP)

Nyon - UEFA reduced Didier Drogba's Champions League ban on Wednesday from four matches to three after his foul-mouthed rant at the referee after Chelsea's semi-final elimination in May.

UEFA's appeals body lowered the ban after the Chelsea striker pleaded his case in person alongside teammate Jose Bosingwa at a closed-door hearing. A suspended ban for another two games is still in place.

Bosingwa's suspension was reduced from three matches to two, with one more deferred, for the defender's offensive comments about Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo.

"We're happy with the outcome and we've had a fair hearing," Chelsea lawyer Jim Sturman told The Associated Press.

Ovrebo also appeared before the UEFA appeals body, which confirmed a 100 000 fine on Chelsea for the improper conduct of its players and fans at the May 6 second-leg match.

Barcelona scored a late goal to snatch a 1-1 draw and advance on away goals to the final, where it then beat Manchester United.

Drogba approached Ovrebo after the final whistle in a finger-waving outburst, and was pulled away by security staff and Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink while yelling an expletive toward a television camera.

Bosingwa compared Ovrebo to a "thief" in a post-match television interview.

The two players declined to comment as they left the hearing.

Sturman's tone was markedly different from Chelsea's reaction to UEFA's initial punishments on June 17. The club appealed that decision, saying the fine and bans were "unnecessarily harsh."

Ovrebo denied several penalty appeals in the match at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea had said the post-match incidents were "regrettable and occurred only because of the high emotions and frustrations which arose from the disappointment of a controversial defeat in such an important game."

Michael Ballack escaped being charged despite aggressively chasing after Ovrebo when a late penalty appeal was rejected. The German midfielder's action occurred during the match and is judged to have been dealt with by the referee on the field of play.

Before the season, UEFA had renewed its campaign calling for players, clubs and fans to respect match officials.

Drogba's ban might have lessened his appeal in the transfer market.

Speculation had grown that the Ivory coast striker, who was sent off in last year's Champions League final loss to Manchester United, would be sold by Chelsea this summer. Serie A champion Inter Milan, led by former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, had been linked with a possible move but there have been no developments. Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

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