Mourinho admits: I didn't see anything

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho yesterday admitted that he had not seen Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard enter referee Anders Frisk's room during Chelsea's controversial Champions' League tie at the Nou Camp.

Jose Mourinho yesterday admitted that he had not seen Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard enter referee Anders Frisk's room during Chelsea's controversial Champions' League tie at the Nou Camp.

However, the Chelsea manager remains defiant ahead of his disrepute hearing on Thursday and maintains that the incident did take place.

In a lecture to Israeli and Palestinian football coaches in Tel Aviv yesterday, Mourinho said: "If something happens in the football stadium, and I don't see it, and if some of my people say to me, 'I saw this, this happened,' I say it's true because I cannot work without loyalty. I have to believe my people."

Mourinho was speaking about the importance of loyalty in football, rather than specifically referring to what happened in Barcelona, but the inference was clear, especially as he, along with his assistant Steve Clarke and Chelsea security official Les Miles have been charged with bringing the game into disrepute by Uefa, the European governing body.

Chelsea have also been charged with failing to attend a press conference and with arriving late for the second half at the Nou Camp. All the charges will be heard on Thursday by the control and disciplinary panel at a special hearing in Nyon, Switzerland. Chelsea have until today to inform Uefa whether they want a personal hearing and who will be attending. If found guilty, Mourinho is likely to, at least, face a touchline ban and a fine.

The charges followed Chelsea sending a dossier about the alleged incident involving Frisk, who subsequently retired after receiving threats, and Rijkaard during half-time at the Nou receiving threats, and Rijkaard during half-time at the Nou Camp. Crucially, Uefa has also seized on an article written by Mourinho which appeared on 26 February, three days after the match, in Dez Record, a weekly Portuguese magazine. In it, he wrote: "When I saw Rijkaard entering the referee's dressing-room I couldn't believe it." Mourinho then added: "When Didier Drogba was sent off I wasn't surprised." The column is actually written by Mourinho and not by a journalist under his name.

Uefa says that what was written is in conflict with a separate statement by Chelsea in which Clarke and Miles - not Mourinho - said they saw the incident. Uefa also contends - after an investigation, including an examination of the architecture and lay-out of the stadium - that it was physically impossible for the two men to see the location where the event allegedly took place. The governing body also maintains that a Uefa official, Fritz Ahlstrom, was in the room and said no meeting had occurred. In bringing the charges, Uefa called the claims "false, wrong and unfounded". Chelsea, they said, lied.

It now appears, although Mourinho is bullish about the case, he is backtracking on his signed article. During his lecture, which was also attended by journalists and was part of his two-day peace visit, he added: "I have to stand with my people and I have to believe in my people. If not I walk away and they stay, or I sack them and they go."

Mourinho refused to answer questions on the Uefa case in a subsequent press conference. However, he said: "I don't run away from problems and I don't change, especially when I believe in what I am doing. If I believe I have the truth in my hands I don't run away from a fight. I don't have to change my personality or my principles.

"Of course I am not perfect, no chance. I have a lot of bad qualities but the people who work with me know I am loyal. Because I am loyal to my people I am involved in something I don't want to be involved in but I won't run away from it."

Mourinho, 42, also reiterated his desire to extend his £4.2m-a-year contract at Chelsea, which has more than three years to run, before returning to Portugal to manage the national team. Negotiations with Chelsea are set to start this summer. "I want to keep working for 13 years and for the next nine or 11 years I see myself in English football," he said. "For the last two or four years I would like to work as Portugal manager." He said that if Portugal wanted him for the national coaching job it would be "compulsory" for him to take it.

However, Mourinho also said separately he wants to work in Italy before going home. One job he does not want is England manager. Mourinho added: "First of all, it's in good hands, and second of all, when Sven decides to go,it's a job for an Englishman."

* Arjen Robben has ruled himself out of Chelsea's Champions' League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich next week. An ankle tendon strain will sideline him for at least a fortnight.

Who said what and when

24 February

Chelsea complain about the Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard (above) entering referee Anders Frisk's dressing-room at half-time in their Champions' League match. Rijkaard: "I was there and nothing happened. It is not true."

27 February

Jose Mourinho: "When I saw Rijkaard enter the referee's changing-room at half-time I couldn't believe it. Rijkaard was in the referee's room for over five minutes. I know because my assistants were at the door while the meeting took place."

14 March

Uefa's Volker Roth: "People like Mourinho are the enemy of football."

28 March

Mourinho: "If something happens and I don't see, and if some of my people arrive and tell me, 'I saw this, this happened,' then the other one comes and says, 'I saw the same,' I say it's true, because I cannot work without loyalty."

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