Carlos Tevez was last night suspended for two weeks and told to stay away from Manchester City pending an investigation into his conduct during the Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich, with his club not ruling out the prospect of ripping up his contract and sacking him.
City said the Argentine – who is suspended on full pay – will "not be considered for selection or take part in training" during the investigation into why he did not enter the field of play in the Allianz Arena. City's decision to suspend him was communicated in a letter couriered to his representatives yesterday. It reflects a sense from the highest level of the club that manager Roberto Mancini in no way overreacted when he declared, in a post-match press conference, that the Argentine was "finished" at the club.
Aware that Tevez's representative, Kia Joorabchian, will not flinch from a legal battle with them, City will undertake a rigorous investigation into what occurred during the second half against the German side, before making any move against Tevez. The player insisted through his representatives' spokespeople yesterday that he was victim of a "misunderstanding", claiming he merely refused Mancini's demand that he leave the dug-out for a second warm-up, rather than refuse to enter the field of play. This flatly contradicted the player's claim on Tuesday night that he "didn't feel" he was "right to play."
City, who have only recently concluded a root-and-branch investigation which resulted in their former chief executive, Garry Cook, leaving the club, will embark on a similar exercise with Tevez. They will seek witnesses from all possible vantage points, with the then-unused substitutes – Pablo Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Aleksandar Kolarov – becoming key witnesses. Mancini's assistant, David Platt, who also had an impeccable vantage point, is a witness who does not feel there was any misunderstanding about the Italian's request that Tevez enter the game. Television footage and interviews will also be examined.
The view from inside the game – and from some legal specialists – is that Tevez is in breach of contract and that the club would be within their rights to rip up his contract for an act of gross misconduct. Senior sources at the Premier League certainly believe that is the case and the vice president of Fifa, Jim Boyce, indicated last night that they would not be unsympathetic if City took such a course of action. "Fifa should have the power, as they do for drugs-related cases... to ban the player from taking an active part in football," he said. A fine of two weeks' wages – the maximum punishment under Professional Footballers' Association rules – is likely to be the first punishment Tevez receives.
The club's Abu Dhabi owners involved themselves yesterday in the initial task of analysing the 27-year-old's £250,000-a-week contract to establish whether they can dismiss him, though doing so does have drawbacks. The club paid well over £25m and possibly £45m – neither City nor Joorabchian has been willing to divulge the figure – and they were demanding £40m for him this summer because their attempts to break even and comply with financial fair play regime will not be enhanced by writing off that kind of figure.
On the other hand, the salary Tevez commands – £1m a month – means that by terminating the contract 30 months before it expires they could save as much as £30m. City could also use the Adrian Mutu precedent to pursue Tevez for the cost of his future transfer fee: Chelsea secured £14.6m in damages from Romanian Mutu in 2009 through Fifa's dispute resolution chamber after the striker tested positive for cocaine in 2005.
But the balance of probabilities seems to be weighing heavily against Tevez's contract being torn up and dismissal. While Mancini is understood not to favour the idea, the Abu Dhabis are also sensitive to damaging his value yet more and also having the club being viewed by those within the game as a place where the regime is austere and unbending. The more likely course of action is that Tevez will be play no future role in Mancini's squads and will be sold at the highest price they can achieve in January. The club went to great lengths to help Corinthians buy Tevez in the summer, though did not receive the guarantees that the buying club could find the money.
The international break has come at a timely moment for City, who are handed two weeks' breathing space while Tevez is with the Argentina squad, who play Chile and Venezuela in World Cup qualifiers. The players had a day off yesterday while the club began their investigation.
Daniel Geey of Field Fisher Waterhouse said it would be implicit within Tevez's contract that he should play football when asked and a failure to play represented gross misconduct in law. City would have to make that decision within days or weeks, to comply with employment law. A complicating factor is that Tevez may claim the right of fair consideration for selection, and the failure to give him that could be a breach of contract on City's part. It may be difficult simply to exclude him from squads entirely.
Tevez's team-mates fell short of publicly questioning him as they left the stadium. "That's a decision each player makes – it was not to do with me, I was on the pitch playing," said compatriot Sergio Aguero. "Those things are between them, not with me. It is Roberto who is in charge, and he puts through his opinions and ideas, and obviously makes his decisions, and we just have to go with it." Of Tevez, Aguero said: "He is a great player, but obviously I am not inside his mind, to know his thoughts and opinions. I am not in his head but I think everything is OK."
'He's a disgrace': How the great and the good view the Tevez saga
Harry Redknapp I felt sorry for Roberto Mancini. To be put in that situation was not right. It wasn't fair. You wonder what the likes of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison would have made of it. He is a great player but I can't condone what happened. It is unbelievable, what kind of a message does that send?
Andy Gray You can't do what he did – it was so disrespectful, unprofessional. I've never known anything like that. Tevez has let down not only the club and fans but his profession.
Tony Pulis Players have egos and get disappointed but you deal with it. They will deal with it in the right manner.
Dwight Yorke I don't condone what he's done, in terms of refusing to go on the pitch. No one likes to see that. You don't need that around the place.
Steffen Effenberg That player would never play in the same club as me again – that goes without saying. There is a clear order from the coach and he disregards it. That is poor behaviour and the club has got to come down hard on it.
Roberto Martinez These things happen continuously. Football is a game of emotions and behind each player there is a person and sometimes they react and make mistakes. Those sort of situations happen very often and sometimes they come out in the press.
Robbie Savage As a footballer, if you are paid £1 or £200,000 a week, if your manager asks you to go on and you refuse, that is a disgrace. If I was manager, that guy would never kick a ball again. It is complete disrespect to your manager and your team-mates.
Gordon Taylor It is part and parcel of the game now. Players have to be professional, although managers have to be aware of the sensitivities involved too.
Francis Lee I just can't believe it. The world of football is full of big stars but, to my knowledge, none of them have done something like this before. You have done it to your team-mates. You work with them every day. They are your best friends, you go through everything together, and then you go and do something like this and you have basically kicked them in the unmentionables.
Mark Hughes There is obviously no relationship whatsoever, you would imagine, with the manager. That needs to be mended and if it can't then something else has to happen.
Graeme Souness Tevez is one bad apple. He's a disgrace to football. He epitomises what most people think is wrong with modern football. It is totally unacceptable. He's a football player and is paid to play. He is refusing to help his team-mates. It's all about him, him, him.Reuse content