Football: O'Neill faces Uefa action for criticism

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Martin O'Neill, the Leicester City manager, may face action from Uefa as a result of comments he is alleged to have made after his side's controversial exit from the Uefa Cup on Tuesday. Chris Maume reports.

As a manager, Martin O'Neill has never been one to keep his feelings to himself - the sight of the Leicester City manager fulminating at decisions that go against his side is a common one. But this time he may find himself in serious trouble following his criticism of the referee after City's elimination from the Uefa Cup at the hands of Atletico Madrid at Filbert Street on Tuesday.

In his criticism of the French official, Remi Harrel, O'Neill is alleged to have made a reference to Nottingham Forest's infamous Uefa cup exit at the hands of a Spanish referee 13 years ago. The reference, which O'Neill has denied making, may lead Uefa to ask the manager for his comments.

"We will be waiting for a report from not only the referee, but our observer and the rest of the delegation at the match," a Uefa spokesman said. "If it is found that the Leicester manager did make such a remark, then we would certainly hold an inquiry."

O'Neill was livid at the manner of Leicester's defeat. He claimed that the club had three apparently cast-iron penalty appeals turned down, and then had Garry Parker sent off for taking a free-kick too quickly (although to be fair to the referee, it was a second bookable offence). Leicester are considering making an official complaint about the referee's performance and have sent a video of the match to Uefa.

"You do feel `what's the point?' and that in two days' time people will think it's just sour grapes on your part," O'Neill said. "But then you think there is a point - to prevent what happened on Tuesday happening again. What happened was disgusting - absolutely shocking."

A spokesman for the club had no comment yesterday.

Sion have made a formal protest to Uefa that one of the goals was too small for their Uefa Cup match away to Spartak Moscow on Tuesday.

The Swiss champions have asked that the first-round second-leg match, which ended in a 2-2 draw but with Spartak winning 3-2 on aggregate, be awarded to them 3-0, putting them into the second round.

According to media reports, measurements by a Uefa match delegate, which delayed the start of the game by 30 minutes, found the crossbar on one of the goals at Moscow's Locomotiv stadium was 14 centimetres below the regulation height of 2.44 metres. Uefa said yesterday that they would make a decision before the second round draw today.