In the light of Arsene Wenger receiving yet another touchline ban from the UEFA overlords, I feel it necessary to reflect on a few items that are deemed silly and childish regarding the entire process and punishment.
UEFA typically administers bans and fines in response to cries of outrage by managers in the wake of their defeats. For example, following Arsenal’s exit from the Champions’ League last year, Wenger verbally reprimanded the referee who had dismissed Robin van Persie from the match against Barcelona. Van Persie had taken a shot after a whistle for offsides had been blown and received a second yellow card. The tie had about 30 minutes remaining and was well poised to be a dramatic and fascinating ending. Arsenal was reduced to 10 men and had lost their prolific striker to a ridiculous sending off.
Then Wenger had to give a post-match interview directly upon walking off the pitch. What do you think he’d say? He received a one match ban. This season, Wenger again felt the need to speak his mind after AC Milan flopped all over the pitch to nurse a slender lead in London. His charge this time resulted in a three match touchline ban, as if to say the man needed a sterner warning for questioning all that the eye could see in the heat of losing the year’s biggest encounter.
There are a few reasons that these bans upset me. First, his comments are correct. The referee in the Barcelona match should never set foot on a football pitch again. UEFA should be punishing these referees for their horrendous impacts on matches. Second, why must you insist on interviewing managers right after a match. We know that the football world loves the drama, but if you’re going to get so angry when someone speaks his mind, perhaps you should wait half an hour for the manager to cool off following a heart-wrenching defeat that he felt was wrongfully imposed upon him by a referee.
Then UEFA has the whole issue of the touchline ban itself. A manager will have to watch his team that he has assembled and coached and prepared for this match from the sideline, and he may not utter a word onto the pitch. And if he tries to perform his job, another ban! Excuse me, but isn’t this rather ridiculous. The manager has been hired to assist the lads on the pitch. And to strip this role of him because he has uttered a disagreement with your petty refs after they repeatedly screw teams over?
I think the pigheads up at UEFA need a spanking. My thinking is that they love it all. It’s all about the drama, it’s all about the controversy. It’s the same reason they won’t adopt replay technology. The controversy creates headlines, the headlines get people talking, the talking sparks interest, and the interest means more people tune in to watch, and that means more money for UEFA and the clubs involved. So I suppose I should just stop talking about it altogether now…