FA slam Alex Ferguson for lack of apology

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson was accused of undermining the Football Association's Respect campaign by the regulatory commission which ruled on the Manchester United manager's disciplinary case.

Ferguson is serving a five-match touchline ban - he was also fined £30,000 - for his verbal attack on referee Martin Atkinson at Chelsea last month.

Following a 2-1 defeat, he said: "You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway - and we didn't get that.

"I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst."

Ferguson decided not to appeal and in their full written reasons published today, the commission criticised him for not softening his stance.

They stated: "The commission was referred to Sir Alex's previous disciplinary record, which included several misconduct charges.

"Although it was his entitlement to do so, he denied the present charge in the face of a strong, if not compelling, case against him.

"Although he denied any intention to question Mr Atkinson's integrity, he should, at the very least, have realised the import of what he said.

"It follows that any credit to which Sir Alex may have been entitled by admitting the charge, and reduction in sanction, was lost.

"In addition, it follows from his denial of the charge that no clarification or retraction of any of his comments has been made by Sir Alex and no apology given to Mr Atkinson, even after the charge had been brought."

The panel added: "The commission regarded this as a serious aggravating feature and rejected Sir Alex's case that his use of the word 'fair' was effectively retracted during the interview itself.

"The commission also took the view that Sir Alex's comments undermined the attempts by the association, through its Respect campaign to encourage higher standards of behaviour within the game, including respect for officials."

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