European football’s governing body UEFA are taking disciplinary action against Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger and midfielder Samir Nasri for comments to Swiss referee Massimo Busacca following their team’s Champions League elimination against Barcelona on Tuesday.
Arsenal lost the last-16 second-leg match 3-1 to go out 4-3 on aggregate at the Nou Camp and Wenger was furious at a second yellow card shown to striker Robin van Persie in the 56th minute for kicking the ball after the whistle sounded for an offside decision, describing it as an “embarrassing” decision by Busacca.
At that stage the score was 1-1 at the Nou Camp, with Arsenal 3-2 ahead on aggregate.
Busacca was reportedly involved in a fiery exchange with the Arsenal manager in the tunnel after the final whistle.
Nasri has also been charged with improper conduct for his comments to the referee after the match, while Van Persie could also be in trouble after describing the decision as a joke, saying that Busacca had “been bad all evening.”
“Both are to face charges of improper conduct, and their cases will be heard by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body on Tuesday 17 March,” said UEFA in a statement.
UEFA studied reports from Busacca and match delegate Dane Jost of Slovenia before asking its disciplinary unit to open cases.
Article 10 of UEFA’s disciplinary rules states that players or officials should be suspended for at least two European competition matches in cases of “pestering or insulting any match official.”
Van Persie, who was not charged Wednesday, was dismayed at his second yellow card with the Netherlands forward claiming he hadn’t heard Busacca’s whistle amid the noise of a 95,000-plus crowd.
“He’s been bad all evening, whistling against us. I don’t know why he’s here tonight,” Van Persie said.
“We feel betrayed a bit. When it was 1-1 it was all to play for and in my opinion this referee killed the game.”
Wenger was equally pointed in his criticism:
“If you play football at a certain level you cannot understand this decision,” Wenger said. “To take the decision in that way and how quickly he did it.”
Busacca has been rated one of Europe’s top referees for several years and was selected by UEFA to handle the 2009 Champions League final. He won praise as Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0 in Rome.
The 42-year-old Busacca has also been at the centre of controversies.
In September 2009, he aimed an obscene hand gesture at fans who verbally abused him during a Swiss Cup match. He accepted he acted badly, apologised and served a three-match suspension.
“It was just human reaction. Like a player in a game when he uses bad words,” Busacca told AP in an interview before leaving for the 2010 World Cup.
However, Busacca found trouble in his first match in South Africa. He sent off the host team’s goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune, in its 3-0 loss against Uruguay for tripping Luis Suarez in the penalty area.
South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said Busacca “doesn’t deserve to be here,” and FIFA did not award him another match.