Tag Archives: suspension

UEFA overturn Steven Caulker"s two-game ban but uphold Tom Ince"s one-match suspension after England Under 21 match in Serbia

UEFA overturn Caulker suspension but UPHOLD Ince ban for scuffles in Serbia despite Young Lions suffering racist abuse

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

20:20 GMT, 15 February 2013

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UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 15 February 2013

Steven Caulker is free to play at Euro 2013 after UEFA overturned the two-game ban he was given in the wake of England Under 21s' controversial game in Serbia.

But there were mixed feelings for head coach Stuart Pearce, as Tom Ince's one-match suspension was upheld following a lengthy disciplinary hearing at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon.

The hearing stemmed from UEFA president Michel Platini appealing against the severity of the punishment that Serbia were given after their fans racially abused several of England's black players during a Euro 2013 play-off in Krusevac last October.

Appeal: Tom Ince (left) and Steven Caulker (right) could have their bans increased

Appeal: Tom Ince (left) and Steven Caulker (right) could have their bans increased

Appeal: Tom Ince's one-game ban was upheld (left) but Steven Caulker's two-game ban was overturned (right)

Serbia survived the threat of expulsion from the 2015 European Under 21 Championship but they will have to play two qualifiers behind closed doors, rather than the one match they were initially ordered to, and the fine of
65,900 administered before Christmas was unaltered.

Pearce said: 'We respect UEFA's
decision and we move on. We welcome the verdict on Steven Caulker's
suspension and choose to accept the verdict with regards to Tom Ince.
Both players should be proud of the way represented themselves to UEFA.'

Europe's governing body had the
capacity to increase the lengths of bans Caulker and Ince were going to
serve had they deemed the appeals to be frivolous.

They were looking to impose a
three-match ban on Tottenham defender Caulker, a two-game suspension for
Ince and hit the Football Association with a 50,000 fine for failing
to control their players.

Sickening: Caulker is led away by Pearce after the incidents, which saw Serbia fined for racist abuse

Sickening: Caulker is led away by Pearce after the incidents, which saw Serbia fined for racist abuse

Shocking: Serbia assistant coach Dejan Govedarica tries to keep players apart in the fiery clash

Shocking: Serbia assistant coach Dejan Govedarica tries to keep players apart in the fiery clash

Fury: Marvin Sordell reacts to the violent scenes, which left the FA bewildered by England player sanctions

Fury: Marvin Sordell reacts to the violent scenes, which left the FA bewildered by England player sanctions

However, Caulker, Ince and Pearce all
conveyed the extreme circumstances that England faced at the end of a
game they won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Connor Wickham.

As a result, there was no fine for
the FA and while Ince, who is understood to be disappointed, will sit
out the game against Italy on June 5, Caulker is free to play in the
tournament.

His only punishment for his
involvement in the melee that erupted after Wickham's last-minute
goal is one day's community service.

The post-match brawl began after
England defender Danny Rose complained of monkey chants whenever he
touched the ball. He was sent off after the final whistle for after
kicking a ball into the stands, gesturing to the crowd as he walked off
the pitch.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce slams suspended players Kevin Nolan and James Collins

Allardyce slams 'unprofessional' Nolan and Collins after they pick up fifth yellow cards in Reading defeat

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UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 30 December 2012

Sam Allardyce blasted two of his key players who picked up yellow cards against Reading that will force them to miss their New Year's Day match with Norwich.

Captain Kevin Nolan and defender James Collins have been at the heart of West Ham's season but will miss their match against Norwich on Tuesday as they serve a one-match suspension for picking up five yellow cards.

If they had not been booked on Saturday the suspension threshold would been have extended to 10 yellow cards.

Head-to-head: West Ham captain Kevin Nolan squares up to Reading's Alex Pearce during the Premier League match on Saturday

Head-to-head: West Ham captain Kevin Nolan squares up to Reading's Alex Pearce during the Premier League match on Saturday

The Hammers have struggled with injuries this season and only two weeks ago they could not name a full list of substitutes against West Brom.

Nolan was booked with 10 minutes to play for a late challenge on Hal Robson-Kanu who was breaking away inside his own half and Collins's yellow was for a late challenge on Pavel Pogrebnyak – both needless tackles.

And manager Allardyce branded the two players 'unprofessional' for picking up a fifth booking this season so close to the deadline.

The 58-year-old said: 'Suddenly Norwich becomes a test of nerve – we are now in our worst run of results this season, and the unprofessionalism of players, due to frustration, means we are now without our captain and James Collins on New Year's Day through suspension.

Suspension: James Collins, as well as Nolan, picked up their fifth bookings of the season against Reading, meaning they will miss the New Year's Day game with Norwich

Suspension: James Collins, as well as Nolan, picked up their fifth bookings of the season against Reading, meaning they will miss the New Year's Day game with Norwich

'Losing the game was hard enough, but to lose two key players in the last game of the suspension period makes it even worse.

'If they had got booked on Tuesday, there's no suspension, but they go and get booked at Reading and now we have to make do without them.'

The yellow card compounded a particularly bad afternoon for Collins.

The centre back was one of West Ham's best players in reducing Reading to a single shot on target – but it was his glaring mistake that handed them that chance that resulted in the winner.

On five minutes Collins played a woefully short pass back to Jussi Jaaskelainen and Pogrebnyak ran on to the ball and finished one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Bad day at the office: Collins also underhit a backpass to gift Pavel Pogrebnyak what turned out to be the decisive goal on five minutes

Bad day at the office: Collins also underhit a backpass to gift Pavel Pogrebnyak what turned out to be the decisive goal on five minutes

The result was only Reading's second win in the league this season against a team they came up with from the Championship.

West Ham are now only six points clear of the relegation zone following a run of one win in eight matches.

They have lost five of their last seven games and Allardyce admitted they are starting to worry about Premier League survival.

But his captain Nolan insisted that during the previous four seasons no-one outside of the top four are safe in the Barclays Premier League until close to the end of the campaign.

The 30-year-old said: 'In the Premier League no matter where you are unless it's two games to go and you're in the top 10 you don't not look behind you.

Not impressed: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce branded Nolan and Collins 'unprofessional' after picking up the suspensions

Not impressed: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce branded Nolan and Collins 'unprofessional' after picking up the suspensions

'I think if you can include Everton [and Arsenal] with the top four all the rest of the teams could be around [the relegation place], a few losses and you're all dragged back into it.

'It's just the way it is, the way the league has been the last three or four years.'

He added: 'We're on 23 points, it's been a decent start, if you'd offered us that at the beginning of the season we would've taken it. That's how we've got to look at it.

'We've got to go for another 23 points and plus that for the next half of the season which is going to be tough but we're more than capable of doing it.'

Robin van Persie kick: Ashley Williams will not be charged by the FA

What will Sir Alex say Swansea skipper Williams will NOT be charged over RVP kickFA won't take any action against WilliamsFergie fumed Van Persie 'could have been killed'Man United boss will not face disrepute charge over his comments

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UPDATED:

11:17 GMT, 24 December 2012

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The FA have confirmed they will NOT be charging Swansea City defender Ashley Williams for his ugly clash with Robin van Persie at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

Sir Alex Ferguson called for Williams to be handed a lengthy suspension for slamming the ball into the back of Van Persie’s head from point-blank range when the United striker was lying on the floor after a 74th-minute foul.

Ferguson, speaking after United were held 1-1, went on to claim the incident ‘could have killed’ Van Persie, but the FA confirmed to Sportsmail that no action will be taken against Williams as he was booked at the time by referee Michael Oliver.

Pain in the neck: Van Persie feels the force of Ashley Williams' kick

Head case: Williams lashes the ball against the neck of floored United striker Van Persie

Lashing out: Floored Manchester United striker Robin van Persie feels the force of Ashley Willaims' kick

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

It is the policy of the FA not to ‘re-referee’ incidents that have been seen by the match officials.

The FA also said it was ‘highly unlikely’ that Ferguson will be handed a disrepute charge for his comments on the matter.

The United manager had said: ‘The Van Persie situation you can clearly see that he could have been killed.

‘The FA has got to look into it
regardless that he has been given a yellow card. He should be banned for
a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a
football field for many years.

Seeing red: Van Persie leaps up to retaliate with Williams after the incident

Seeing red: Van Persie leaps up to retaliate with Williams after the incident

Head-to-head: A furious Van Persie leaps up to vent his rage to Williams after the incident

Head-to-head: A furious Van Persie leaps up to vent his rage to Williams after the incident

Pulled apart: The pair had to be separated by their team-mates

Pulled apart: The pair had to be separated by their team-mates

So, was RVP at risk

GRAHAM POLL
Former Premier League referee

Sir Alex Ferguson’s reaction to Ashley Williams kicking the ball that hit Robin van Persie in the 76th minute sounded a little over the top, but Williams could well have been sent off rather than cautioned by referee Michael Oliver.

If, in the opinion of the referee, the ball was deliberately kicked at an opponent and used like a weapon, then he should have been sent off for violent conduct. As it was reasonable for Williams’s actions to be seen as natural in clearing a loose ball from his own penalty area, it was almost impossible for Oliver to determine with any degree of certainty what his intentions were – and so a caution was the sensible decision.

MARK LEATHER
Former Premier League physio

It's unlikely that being hit by the ball could have killed Van Persie. But being struck that hard from such a short distance could have knocked him out. I’ve seen players knocked out by free-kicks struck from 10 yards away.

If you are unconscious, there is then a risk of trauma to the brain. A blow that fierce is like being hit in boxing – the damage is unpredictable. It can lead to internal bleeding and permanent damage, or there can be just an aching head.

‘It was absolutely deliberate. The
whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in
front of the referee – he could have killed the lad.

‘It was a disgraceful act by the player, he should banned for a long time.’

Williams played down the incident,
saying: ‘I tried to clear the ball, (but) it hit him on the head. I was
trying to clear the ball. He was obviously a bit angry about that.

‘It was a much ado about nothing.’

He added: ‘I tried to apologise but
there wasn't much time. I didn't see him afterwards. Obviously I would
shake his hand but it is no big deal.

'I just lashed at the ball and I
understand why he is angry but it is not like I am going to shoot and
hit him square on the head.’

The ugly scenes detracted from a thrilling draw. Patrice Evra had put
United ahead after 16 minutes but Michu hit back for Swansea with his
13th Barclays Premier League strike 13 minutes later. United twice hit
the frame of the goal as they tried and failed to restore their
six-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, says Ashley Williams is 'not a nasty footballer'.

He said: 'You see the incident and it is a very, very dangerous situation'.

'If you see one of your players with a bang on the back of the head it is really dangerous and it can have bad consequences. You can understand that.

In the book: Referee Michael Oliver booked Williams but Ferguson is calling for the defender to be banned

Yellow peril: Van Persie was also booked by Oliver for his part in the bust-up

In the book: Referee Michael Oliver booked Williams but Ferguson is calling for the defender to be banned, while Van Persie also received a yellow card for his part in the bust-up

'I signed Ashley Williams for Swansea
and I know his character inside out. I can guarantee you without even
looking at the incident that he is not a nasty footballer.

'He is a winner and fully committed, a
leader and a captain, and I don't for one second doubt that he did not
do that on purpose.

'It is an action of the game. He can
show frustration – it is an emotional game and it is very unfortunate
that it hits Van Persie in a part of the body where he could have been
hurt heavily, and you don't want to see that.

'But from my point of view, I know
Ashley Williams really well – when you sign a player you find out about a
player and I can guarantee you he is not the type of footballer who
would do that on purpose.'

QPR boss Harry Redknapp, speaking ahead of his side's Boxing Day clash with West Bromwich Albion, said of the Williams incident: 'I don't see how he was going to be killed.

'He kicked the ball at him. I have seen worse things on a football pitch.'

John Terry to promote Kick It Out campaign in his programme notes

EXCLUSIVE: Terry gets with the programme and promotes Kick It Out campaign

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UPDATED:

22:11 GMT, 26 October 2012

John Terry will take the first steps towards repairing his tarnished reputation on Sunday by promoting the much-maligned Kick It Out campaign in his programme notes.

The Chelsea skipper will miss the eagerly-awaited clash against Manchester United as he serves the second of a four game suspension for making a racist remark towards Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand last year.

Doing his bit: John Terry will promote the Kick It Out campaign in his programme notes ahead of Chelsea's clash with Manchester United

Doing his bit: John Terry will promote the Kick It Out campaign in his programme notes ahead of Chelsea's clash with Manchester United

But Sportsmail understands Terry will make reference to the good work the anti-racism organisation Kick It Out has done to rid British football of the problem in his captain's column in Sunday's match-day programme.

Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has confirmed Sportsmail's story that Ashley Cole is expected to offer to shake Rio Ferdinand's hand on Sunday.

In the past: Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand are set to shake hands before Sunday's game

In the past: Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand are set to shake hands before Sunday's game

The duo have been at odds with each other over the summer after Cole gave court testimony in favour of Terry during the central-defender's successful legal battle against the charge that he racially abused Anton, Rio's younger brother, last October.

Rio himself was fined 45,000 for appearing to endorse a Tweet referring to Cole as 'choc-ice' – a term that has clear racial connotations.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte will still sit out Chelsea tie despite touchline ban reduced

Juventus coach Conte will still sit out Chelsea tie despite touchline ban reduced

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UPDATED:

19:25 GMT, 5 October 2012

Juventus head coach Antonio Conte will return to the touchline in December after having his lengthy suspension from football reduced by six months.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) suspended Conte for 10 months in August for his alleged failure to report two incidents of match-fixing while in charge of Siena during the 2010-11 Serie B season.

Appeal: Juventus coach Antonio Conte

Appeal: Juventus coach Antonio Conte

A subsequent appeal to the Federal Court of Justice failed, but Conte's lawyers' move for acquittal by Italy's sporting arbitration court (TNAS) has resulted in a reduction of six months, allowing Conte to take charge of Juventus' Serie A game at Palermo on December 9.

The terms of Conte's ban have allowed him to coach his players during the week, but prohibit any touchline activity, with Juve technical director Massimo Carrera forced to assume interim control of the Italian champions on matchdays.

In September, a FIFA committee extended Conte's suspension worldwide, denying him the chance to manage in the Champions League.

The 43-year-old will therefore miss out on making his management debut in the competition this calendar year, as Juve's last group game against Shakhtar Donetsk takes place on December 5. They are scheduled to face Chelsea at home on November 21.

Conte will also have missed 15 league games by the time he returns to the bench at Palermo's Stadio Renzo Barbera in December.

This summer's wide-sweeping investigation into irregular betting patterns and incidents of match-fixing involved 45 people and 13 clubs in total.

Conte's former club Siena were handed a six-point deduction while Lecce found themselves demoted to Lega Pro for their role in the Calcioscommesse scandal.

Former Bari defender Andrea Masiello received a 22-month suspended sentence for admitting scoring a deliberate own goal in a relegation decider in exchange for payment.

Joey Barton told he must serve ban at Marseille

Barton blow as bad boy is told he must serve ban at new club Marseille

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UPDATED:

22:34 GMT, 6 September 2012

Marseille's on-loan QPR midfielder Joey Barton will still have to serve out his 12-match suspension even after his move to France.

Barton was issued with the ban as a result of his actions on the final day of last season, when he was sent off for a clash with Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez and responded by lashing out at City players Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany before attempting to confront Mario Balotelli.

He was frozen out upon Rangers' return for pre-season training and was not even offered a squad number for the new season, prompting his move abroad.

In the spotlight: Barton has been told he will have to serve his ban at Marseille

In the spotlight: Barton has been told he will have to serve his ban at Marseille

But any hopes that he might avoid serving his ban after moving to a new country have been dashed by a statement from the French League, the LFP.

The statement, published on both the LFP and Marseille's websites, read: 'Upon the transfer of Joey Barton from Queens Park Rangers to Olympique Marseille, the English Football Association transmitted to the French Football Federation the disciplinary sanction he was subject to in the English league.

No escape: Barton had hoped to swerve the ban

No escape: Barton had hoped to swerve the ban

'In accordance with article 12 of FIFA's Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players, the sanction is applicable in France.

'Consequently Joey Barton, having served three of his 12-match suspension [in England], is suspended for the next nine games in domestic competition (Ligue 1 and the Coupe de la Ligue).'

The FIFA regulation cited in the statement reads: 'Any disciplinary suspension imposed on a player prior to a transfer must be enforced or applied by the new association at which the player is registered.

'The former association is obliged to notify the new association of any sanction in writing and upon issuing the ITC (International Transfer Certificate).'

October 7's grudge match with bitter rivals Paris St Germain is the highest-profile game Barton will miss.

He will also sit out Ligue 1 games against Nancy, Evian, Valenciennes, Troyes, Lyon, Ajaccio and Nice as well as OM's entry into the Coupe de la Ligue in the last 16.

But he will be available for Europa League group games against Fenerbahce, AEL and Borussia Monchengladbach twice in the meantime.

Michel Platini backs Samir Nasri over journalist row

Platini backs Nasri on journalist row, calling rumours of two-year France ban 'ludicrous'

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UPDATED:

15:14 GMT, 30 June 2012

UEFA president Michel Platini has branded claims Samir Nasri could be banned for two years by France for his behaviour at Euro 2012 'absolutely ludicrous'.

After the debacle that unfolded in South Africa two years ago, morale in the French camp unravelled once more this summer.

Nasri was at the centre of it following intense criticism about the Manchester City man's performances.

Fiery character: Samir Nasri lost his rag with a French journalist

Fiery character: Samir Nasri lost his rag with a French journalist

The midfielder gesticulated angrily to the stands following his equaliser in the opening game against England.

Then he got himself in a four-letter exchange with a journalist following France's exit to Spain in Donetsk.

Sensitive to what went on before, it has been suggested Nasri faces a lengthy suspension from international duty.

Laughed off: Michel Platini (right)

Laughed off: Michel Platini (right)

But Platini, France's captain when they won the European Championships in 1984, feels that would be a wrong move.

'If I got suspended every time I insulted a journalist I wouldn't have had many caps,' he said.

'Whether Samir Nasri deserves something I have heard talk of two-year suspension but that's absolutely ludicrous.'

Joey Barton reacts after being stripped of QPR captaincy

Barton vows to return stronger after being stripped of QPR captaincy and fined

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UPDATED:

15:34 GMT, 25 June 2012

Joey Barton has vowed to bounce back from his 12-match ban and help push QPR up the Barclays Premier League table.

Barton accepted he deserved to be stripped of the club captaincy and fined six weeks' wages for his sending off at Manchester City on the final day of the season.

The 29-year-old was hit with a lengthy suspension and fined 75,000 by a Football Association-appointed independent regulatory commission last month after being dismissed for elbowing Carlos Tevez.

As he left the pitch, Barton kicked out at Sergio Aguero before aiming a headbutt in the direction of Vincent Kompany in the match on May 13.

Flash point: Barton kicked out at Sergio Aguero and tried to headbutt Vincent Kompany after being dismissed for elbowing Carlos Tevez

Flash point: Barton kicked out at Sergio Aguero and tried to headbutt Vincent Kompany after being dismissed for elbowing Carlos Tevez

Following their own internal review, QPR have now imposed further sanctions on the controversial midfielder, signed last summer on a lucrative four-year deal following a free transfer from Newcastle.

Barton has been warned that contract will be terminated should he 'seriously breach the club's disciplinary procedures again'.

The midfielder, however, intends to return stronger from the whole experience.

Dismissed: Barton will miss the first 12 games of the season following his suspension

Dismissed: Barton will miss the first 12 games of the season following his suspension

Barton is currently away on holiday, but expanded on his official club statement with a series of Twitter posts.

'I was stupid and that what happens when u [sic] do dumb things. I am confident ill [sic] bounce back. Cannot wait,' Barton said.

'I wish to put it behind me now and help QPR, once available of course, push on towards the top half.'

Barton added: 'I was reckless and deserved every punishment I received. Money comes and goes, it's not important to me. Losing the captaincy and missing 12 games is what really hurts.'

Barton has a long history of controversy, both on and off the pitch.

In 2008, he was given a six-month jail term after admitting assault and affray. During his time as a player at Manchester City, Barton was fined after he stubbed a lit cigar in the eye of young team-mate Jamie Tandy during the club's Christmas party.

Earlier this month, Barton was arrested for affray following a night out in Liverpool with his girlfriend.

And another thing: Barton squares up to Tevez during the final day match at Eastlands

And another thing: Barton squares up to Tevez during the final day match at Eastlands

In his official club statement, the player issued an unreserved apology.

'My behaviour was wrong and I accept the punishment that has been imposed upon me as a result,' the statement read.

'I apologise to the manager, my team-mates and of course the QPR fans for my actions.

'I also apologise to the Manchester City players, staff and supporters.'

QPR also confirmed Barton will not be part of the squad which heads to Asia for a pre-season tour in mid-July.

Chief executive Philip Beard defended the club's punishment and is hopeful the player will be able to put the incident behind him as they prepare for a second season back in the Premier League.

He said: 'It was important that we took our time to make sure we came to the correct decision, which I believe we have achieved.

'Joey's behaviour, which led to his red card at Manchester City, and his subsequent actions were completely unacceptable and we have made our feelings on this matter known to him.

'I am really pleased with the way in which the club and Joey have worked towards reaching a sensible conclusion and we fully believe he will respond to these sanctions in the correct manner.'

Arsene Wenger to fight UEFA ban

Wenger blast at UEFA as he vows to fight Euro ban for X-rated rant

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UPDATED:

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'

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

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.

Will he stay or will he go: Arsenal want Robin van Persie to sign a new deal

Will he stay or will he go: Arsenal want Robin van Persie to sign a new deal

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.’

Kenny Dalglish hails Luis Suarez

Dalglish backing Suarez to bring Merseyside misery down on Premier League defenders

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UPDATED:

11:18 GMT, 21 March 2012

Kenny Dalglish has warned that a happy Luis Suarez is set to bring sadness to Liverpool's Premier League rivals.

Suarez has been linked with a move away in the wake of the race row with Patrice Evra which earned him an eight-game suspension.

But the Uruguay striker this week insisted he is loving life at Anfield and Dalglish expects his star man to make defences pay.

King Luis: Suarez scored his 12th goal of the season in the win over Stoke

King Luis: Suarez scored his 12th goal of the season in the win over Stoke

The Reds boss told Liverpoolfc.tv: 'It might be bad news for other Premier League teams but it is encouraging for us.

'Luis has always said he is happy here, so it's great for everyone who supports Liverpool.

'I don't think he has been anything other than a threat to the opposition. We aren't going to analyse every game he has played in, but he's always been a threat.

'We have been delighted with him since he has been here. And we are delighted with the wee man's comments.

Key player: Kenny Dalglish is delighted with Suarez's contribution

Key player: Kenny Dalglish is delighted with Suarez's contribution

'He scored a fantastic goal against Stoke, it was quite similar to the one he scored at Stoke in the Carling Cup although he was a bit more wide.

'Luis has made a contribution every time he has stepped out on to the football pitch, whether it was on Sunday (in the FA Cup win against the Potters) or a month ago. He scores goals and creates goals.

'It's great news that he is happy. We are delighted with his statement and the content of it. It's good news for everyone who supports the club.'

Suarez joined Liverpool from Ajax for 22.8million in January last year.