UEFA rejects Lille's protest

UEFA has rejected Lille's attempt to get its Champions League match against Manchester United replayed.

updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Nyon, Switzerland:

UEFA has rejected Lille's attempt to get its Champions League match against Manchester United replayed. Manchester United beat Lille 1-0 on Tuesday but the French club claimed there had been a technical mistake when the referee allowed Ryan Giggs to take the winning free kick before the official had blown his whistle. UEFA said on Friday it had examined the referee's match report and television evidence and that the referee was correct to award the goal. "As a result, the body declared that the goal was perfectly valid," UEFA said in a statement. "Furthermore, the Control and Disciplinary Body decided to instigate proceedings against Lille for the improper behavior of their players immediately after the goal." Lille criticised the decision in a statement on its Web site, saying that UEFA had failed to consider its core argument that the referee was not sufficiently neutral. "We regret that UEFA, a regulating authority which we see as a guarantee of the fairness of competition and the neutrality of all those involved, did not wish to analyze this case to finally advance the idea that it is the game which comes out the winner of the competitions it organizes," Lille said. "Instead of that, we will retain from this episode an image tainted by money, violence and power plays." Evaluate before appeal Lille, which has until midnight Monday to appeal against the decision, said it would first evaluate its chances of success before deciding whether to take the case any further. Giggs scored in the 83rd minute in a match played in Lens because Lille's stadium does not meet UEFA standards. Following a foul on substitute Louis Saha, Giggs looked at the referee and then curled a shot over the wall, leaving Lille goalkeeper Tony Sylva stranded as the ball sailed into the top corner. That prompted a Lille coach to gesture to the players to leave the field. Angry Manchester United players also rushed to the sidelines, but there was little trouble and the match soon resumed. The control and disciplinary body will review the other incidents, which occurred at the match at a separate meeting on March 22. United fans were pushed against high fences at Stade Felix-Bollaert in Lens, forcing several to climb over the barrier to safety on the field. Riot police also fired tear gas into the crowd, although no one was seriously injured. United said that Lille's poor handling of security put its fans in danger. Lille's directors blamed Manchester United for the crowd trouble, saying the English team's early distribution of tickets gave forgers time to produce counterfeits. Lille also said that a number of United's Category C hooligans - regarded as the most dangerous by British police - managed to enter the stadium. The return leg is at Old Trafford on March 7.