Desailly's ban threat adds to Chelsea turmoil

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The Independent Online

Defeat was followed by indignity for Chelsea yesterday as Fifa and Uefa launched separate investigations into their conduct and Roman Abramovich discovered even his generosity has its limits.

Defeat was followed by indignity for Chelsea yesterday as Fifa and Uefa launched separate investigations into their conduct and Roman Abramovich discovered even his generosity has its limits.

Soon after the London club returned to England, following Tuesday's Champions' League semi-final first-leg defeat in Monaco, Uefa, football's European governing body, charged Marcel Desailly with improper conduct for appearing to elbow Monaco's Fernando Morientes.

Fifa, the game's world governing body, was then asked to consider a complaint from Porto which alleged that Chelsea had made an improper approach to their coach, Jose Mourinho. Chelsea's grim week was then compounded when Abramovich was told he could not honour impromptu pledges of increased bonuses.

Uefa's strict disciplinary body will pass judgement on Desailly tomorrow. The experienced club captain, a Champions' League winner with Marseilles and Milan, is likely to be banned from the 5 May second leg and could miss any putative final.

The commission will review video evidence of the incident and consider official reports from the Swiss referee, Urs Meier, and the Austrian match delegate, Gerhard Kapl. Earlier this season Ryan Giggs was banned for two matches for improper conduct after a similar incident while playing for Wales against Russia. The same penalty for Desailly would see him miss the second leg and, should Chelsea overcome Monaco's 3-1 advantage, the final. Desailly refused to comment. "Write what you want," he said. "I will talk only about football."

Claude Makelele, who is suspended from the second leg for collecting three cautions in the competition, is unlikely to be punished further for his exaggerated response to a cuff from Andres Zikos which led to the Greek player's dismissal. Contact was made and as Makelele was booked, the referee is deemed to have seen the incident.

Zikos will also miss the second leg unless Uefa, who will consider his case tomorrow, decides in the light of Makelele's play-acting that the dismissal was sufficient punishment. Meanwhile, Fifa is considering the complaint made by Nuño Pinto da Costa, the president of Porto. He accused Abramovich, by name, of making an unauthorised approach to Mourinho.

Da Costa alleges that Abramovich and Peter Kenyon, Chelsea's chief executive, scheduled a meeting with Mourinho's representative in Setubal, Portugal, on Monday. The complaint is unlikely to lead to any sanction but is embarrassing, not least because at the time Ranieri was preparing Chelsea for the Monaco tie and Mourinho was doing the same for his team's semi-final against Lyon, played last night.

However, this will not prevent either Chelsea or Mourinho continuing with their courtship. Mourinho, once Bobby Robson's translator in Portugal, is now regarded as one of the most talented young coaches in Europe. Having steered his club to the Uefa Cup last season and last four of the Champions' League this, he has also been linked with Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle - and they are just the English clubs. With Sven Goran Eriksson and Ottmar Hitzfeld rejecting Chelsea's overtures, Mourinho appears their latest preferred choice.

Kenyon appeared unconcerned when informed about the complaint but did not refute Da Costa's claim. Having been photographed at Vigo airport, just north of the Spanish border, he could not deny being in the area and he admitted Abramovich was with him. He was more concerned that Abramovich's movements may be being tracked, and Chelsea will hold an internal security review. Abramovich is always accompanied by bodyguards.

Kenyon also had to inform his employer that an offer to double the bonuses of Chelsea players after their Champions' League quarter-final win over Arsenal was illegal under football regulations. All planned bonuses must be declared before the start of the season and cannot be changed. The players stood to make an extra £50,000 a man. They must also repay £18,000 awarded as an enhanced bonus following a previous European victory.

This trio of bad tidings completed an awful week for the London club. On Tuesday, besides the defeat to Monaco, Ranieri was quoted making critical comments about his employer. Ranieri claims to have been misinterpreted.

In addition, Manchester United won on Tuesday night, the victory taking them to within a point of Chelsea in the Premiership. Chelsea, who have not won in four matches, are at Newcastle on Sunday and visit Old Trafford on 8 May. Automatic qualification for next season's Champions League is far from assured.

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