Football: Wenger outburst over Chelsea `divers'

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The Independent Online
Arsene Wenger yesterday risked the wrath of the Football Association by calling Arsenal's Coca-Cola Cup conquerors Chelsea "experienced divers" and saying the semi-final referee Graham Poll's dismissal of Patrick Vieira was "absolutely ridiculous."

Wenger, speaking in a calm and calculated manner two days after the Stamford Bridge match, revealed his sense of injustice and a daunting injury list for today's home Premiership match against Crystal Palace.

Wenger criticised Poll, who dished out 10 yellow cards and one red on Wednesday night, and then appeared 24 hours later on a television show in which he took up an invitation to justify his decisions.

Wenger said: "I think he should have stayed at home - on both nights. I'm very disappointed because it seemed everything went against us. We were not angels but you have to say that if Vieira was sent off then 10 other players could have gone off before and after him."

He also thinks Vieira, who has collected 23 yellow cards in less than two seasons, has become a victim of his reputation.

"The first booking against Vieira was absolutely ridiculous because for me it is a dive by [Gianluca] Vialli," Wenger said."I said to the players who had been booked before half-time that it was very important not to be involved in anything that might bring a second yellow card but it was such a physical battle and they [Chelsea] have much more experience. They dived a lot."

The European Commission has written to the World Cup Organising Committee (CFO) demanding that it drops a requirement for non-residents ordering tickets to have a postal address in France.

The letter accuses the CFO of breaching the principles of free and fair competition within the EU's single market and warns legal steps will follow unless the rule is dropped within a fortnight. More than 60 per cent of tickets have already been sold exclusively to people living in France, but the European Commission hopes that its action will allow greater access to any tickets remaining on sale.

The Commission has also told the CFO that its ticket policy disadvantages anyone living outside France because the only option is to buy through agents, who are asking high prices. "There is clear discrimination. We want to see more European citizens, and not only in France, being able to buy tickets," it said.

If the CFO decides to ignore the warning letter, the Commission will proceed to a formal statement of objections to its system. If that is not heeded the organisers will be fined for every day they continue with the infraction.

Blackburn's manager, Roy Hodgson, is stepping up his move for Lazio's Pierluigi Casiraghi. Hodgson sent his assistant, Tony Parkes, to watch Casiraghi against Juventus in the Italian Cup on Thursday.

Tottenham hope to complete the pounds 2.3m signing of Moussa Saib, the 26-year- old Algerian midfielder, from the Spanish club Valencia next week. Spurs' manager, Christian Gross, targeted the former Auxerre man soon after replacing Gerry Francis but had to wait for Saib to end his involvement with the Africa Nations' Cup.