Chelsea fear Uefa choice of referee for Barça tie

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The Independent Football

Spanish newspapers yesterday reported that the decision on who referees what promises to be a highly charged first-leg match at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday "will be influenced by events of last year", with the suggestion that this will mean a Swede being in charge. Frisk retired as a referee after the first leg at the Nou Camp last season after claiming he had received death threats following allegations by Chelsea about a half-time conversation with the Barcelona manager, Frank Rijkaard.

The Swede came in for heavy criticism from the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, in the aftermath of the match and the subsequent threats made to him by anonymous individuals, understood to be Chelsea supporters, persuaded the experienced referee to end his career. However Chelsea are privately angry about the prospect of a gesture aimed at healing the bad feeling that would involve appointing one of the two Swedish Champions' League-approved referees to the game.

A source at the club said: "Although these claims that a Swedish referee will be appointed are not confirmed, as far as we are concerned the events of last season are behind us. The appointment of a referee should be made on the basis that it is a high-profile fixture and the man in charge should be the best man for the job.

"Had what took place last season not occurred we would still be expecting a top official to take charge of this game. If we were to get a referee of the standard of Pierluigi Collina [who took charge of the second leg at Stamford Bridge] then that would be great." There are fears that the two Swedish officials on the list would have inadequate experience for such a match. Peter Frojdfeldt, 42, had been given only two Champions' League matches before this season while his compatriot Martin Hansson, 34, a fireman in his native Holmsjo, made his debut this season. Neither would normally be given such a game.

After an acrimonious tie last season that earned Mourinho and Chelsea combined Uefa fines of £40,000 for "deliberately creating a poisoned and negative ambience" according to the European game's governing body, next week's game promises to be no different. Already, Barcelona's Brazilian defender Thiago Motta has accused Chelsea of deliberately allowing the state of their pitch to deteriorate in order to disadvantage the Spanish champions.

The 23-year-old said: "That's their choice. We have taken a totally different option [a new pitch has been laid at the Nou Camp] and they could complain about that. Chelsea's pitch will affect us because it is a difficult ground to play at because the crowd are so close and the grass is in bad shape, but in a tie like this each team will do whatever's best for them. We just have to adapt.

"We have to keep cool because with such an evenly-balanced tie the team that have their heads clear will have an advantage. There are bound to be some tricks in store for us but we have to stay cooler than them."

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