Man City boss Pellegrini apologises for referee criticism

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has issued an apology after criticising referee Jonas Eriksson following the Champions League defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday, ESPN has reported.

Pellegrini said sorry to UEFA, Eriksson and the entire nation of Sweden, insisting that he never cast aspersions over the referee’s honesty and didn’t say a referee from the Scandinavian country was incapable of officiating such a prestigious game.

The Chilean was angered by Eriksson’s decision to send off Martin Demichelis for fouling Lionel Messi and award a penalty to Barca in the aftermath of the incident. Pellegrini also felt Eriksson should have blown for a foul on Jesus Navas prior to Barca’s break that led to the red card.

“When you lose a game the way we lost against Barcelona, you are frustrated, you are angry,” said Pellegrini. “Maybe I said some things I didn’t mean in that way so I apologise for what I said.

“Also I want to clarify what I said: I didn’t make any serious accusations about anyone, not about the referee, not about UEFA, not about anyone. I said the referee decided the match because he decided the match.

“He didn’t give us a foul against Navas and after came the penalty against Martin Demichelis and we had a player sent off. In this case, [Eriksson had] very bad luck also because a lot of times the referee didn’t give a foul and it didn’t always finish with a penalty and a sending off.

“He decided the game, but not with the intention of benefiting Barcelona or damaging Manchester City. He was in a bad day with very bad luck because he is mistaken in that foul that decides the game but we saw after on TV that it was a foul and it wasn’t a penalty [although it was] maybe very near the edge of the box.

“But I didn’t say he was a bad referee, that he was not honest, that he cannot referee in UEFA [competitions]. That was the first thing I want to clarify.

“The second thing is that maybe it was better for so important a game to have another kind of referee, because he was always refereeing in the Swedish league. That is another thing I don’t think.

“Sweden is a country that has a lot of good players, they have one of the best in the world in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and it can also have a good referee. I am sure this is a good referee because UEFA are always evaluating all the referees and if he is not a good referee, he is not in the UEFA staff.”

Pellegrini will soon be informed if he is to face a UEFA charge for his initial comments and could be forced to miss the second-leg between City and Barca, which takes place at Camp Nou in March.

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