Official stripped of touchline duties after Barcelona shirt photograph backfires

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The Independent Football

Arsenal will have no one to blame but themselves if they lose tonight after the Norwegian assistant referee Ole Hermann Borgan was last night stripped of his duties for the European Cup final by Uefa after being photographed by a newspaper in his home country in a Barcelona shirt.

While Borgan admitted his actions had been stupid he said he would have been impartial, but Uefa has decided against using him and will replace him with fellow Norwegian Arild Sundet. Sundet was not in Paris last night, but will fly in this morning to assist referee Terje Hauge, another Norwegian.

Uefa said: "The referees committee has decided that the Norwegian should be substituted by his compatriot Sundet. The decision comes after a photograph of Borgan wearing a Barcelona shirt."

"It was thoughtless and stupid of me," Borgan said before learning of Uefa's decision. "I didn't think the consequences through when I was asked to put on the shirt."

Hauge reiterated Borgan's regret and said: "It was a stupid thing to do but he did it in pure joy at being chosen to take part. It does not mean he is a Barça fan. It was just a stupid decision. We want to put this behind us and we are now focused 100 per cent on the game."

Before Uefa acted the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger played down the issue. [Officials] will always work hard and honestly," he said. "The fact that he wore a Barça shirt does not change my mind."