Del Horno intended to hurt me, says Messi

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The Independent Online

Chelsea officials moved swiftly last night to remove abusive and threatening messages on their official website about Norwegian referee Terje Hauge, who sent off Asier Del Horno in the club's 2-1 defeat to Barcelona on Wednesday, in order to avoid a similar controversy to the one that ignited around referee Anders Frisk last season.

Swede Frisk retired from refereeing after threats were made to him following a dispute with Jose Mourinho last season and Chelsea took down five postings that were described as abusive and threatening towards Hauge from the supporters' forum on chelseafc.com. Hauge is also understood to have been targeted on an independent website in his home country.

Frisk has never elaborated on the nature of the threats he received last season ­ although they are understood to have come from individuals claiming to be Chelsea supporters. Yesterday, Chelsea officials said that the messages did not include threats against Hauge's life and were out of 3,000 messages posted on the forum during the day.

Hauge dismissed Del Horno in the 37th minute for a challenge on Barcelona winger Lionel Messi. Mourinho accused Messi of "theatre" in his reaction.

A Chelsea spokesman said: "We completely condemn any form of threat that is posted on our website. We monitor the content but unfortunately it's impossible to stop them being posted in the first place. Once located they are taken off and if there is any way of tracking down the person responsible, we will take action against them."

The dispute over whether Del Horno deserved to be dismissed reignited yesterday when Messi accused him of malicious intent and dismissed Mourinho's claims. The 18-year-old was damning of a tackle which, according to his team-mates, left his leg badly gashed. Messi said a foul from Del Horno earlier in the phase of play indicated that he had been premeditated in his approach to the second, more severe, tackle.

"It was obvious from his first attack on me that he went in to kick me on the knee," Messi said. "It meant the second time he came in really hard, he was going over the ball with the intention of hurting me. That was why I jumped and that is the only reason he did not do real damage."

"I don't perform theatre," Messi added. "I don't attach any importance to that because we know what Mourinho's like; he likes talking, he likes to say things and heat up the atmosphere."

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