Wenger blast at UEFA as he vows to fight Euro ban for X-rated rant
21:38 GMT, 30 March 2012
Arsene Wenger vowed to fight his latest touchline ban and launched a blistering attack on UEFA.
Wenger was suspended from the first three games of next season’s European campaign and fined €40,000 (33,000) as punishment for an X-rated rant at Slovenian referee Damir Skomina after Arsenal’s 3-0 Champions League last- 16 second-leg win over AC Milan.
‘I will appeal,’ fumed Wenger. ‘If you are able to prepare your team it does not change a lot but it is not at all justified and injustice hurts.
Laughing it off: But Arsene Wenger claims his three-match European ban is 'an injustice'
'I have played 200 games in Europe and suddenly people discover I can be suspended. They have transformed UEFA competition referees to be untouchable icons. You cannot even have a word. The only thing they understand after the game is the (referee’s) report.
ARSENE'S RAP SHEET
CRIME: A rant at Massimo Busacca after last year’s exit to Barcelona.
PUNISHMENT: An ‘unjustified’ one-match touchline ban that, he later learned, meant no communication with his team during the game.
CRIME: Communicating with the bench from the stands in the play-off tie against Udinese last August.
PUNISHMENT: A ‘joke’ further two-match suspension for violating the rules of his ban.
CRIME: Improper conduct charge relating to the last-16 second leg against AC Milan this month. PUNISHMENT: An ‘unjust’ three-match UEFA touchline ban and 33,000 fine.
‘I believe that when you have 25 years consecutively in Europe you can still ask the referee if you can have some discussion with him. It is very difficult to understand.’
This is Wenger’s third touchline ban in little more than a year. He received a one-game suspension after a post-match verbal assault on ex-referee Massimo Busacca when the Gunners crashed out of last season’s Champions League in Barcelona.
A two-match ban followed after UEFA decided he had flouted the rules of the original ban by passing information to the bench during a Champions League play-off against Udinese in August.
The latest punishment is the result of an outburst at Skomina (right) in the Emirates tunnel after his side’s fightback fell short.
‘The first time was not justified and the second time was a joke,’ said Wenger. ‘They told me what to do and afterwards they said, ‘‘No, sorry, that was wrong’’. So, at the moment, I have difficulties with UEFA and I think they have gone overboard if they suspend me.’
Barcelona this week lodged an official complaint to UEFA about the state of AC Milan’s pitch, something which also infuriated Wenger when Arsenal played at the San Siro last month.
On the receiving end: Referee Damir Skomina was the target of Wenger's abuse
‘I didn’t know it was possible,’ he said. ‘The pitch we played on was 10 times worse than it was on Tuesday. I complained to the official at UEFA but he just looks at you and says, ‘‘Oh, thank you very much, I have a dinner tonight’’.’
Milan beat Arsenal 4-3 on aggregate but Wenger believes his team are now fitter, in better form and far more confident.
The Gunners go to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday seeking an eighth successive Premier League win for the first time since the Invincibles’ year of 2004.
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They are determined to finish in the top three to secure automatic qualification for the Champions League and to provide clout in the transfer market and to tempt Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott — out of contract next year — to sign new deals.
Wenger said: ‘What is important is to finish in a Champions League position to keep our players, then as well to have the confidence to start well again next season.
‘We have a big squad and will not need many players. We want to keep our best players and get them fit for next season.
‘These players want to win things and they want to be in a team that has a chance. Our end of season will help me convince them that it can be here.’