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Apr 9, 2013

UEFA denies Barca ref suspension - report

UEFA has reportedly denied suggestions that Wolfgang Stark will not referee again in this season's Champions League following the German official's controversial performance in the quarter-final first-leg between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

Catalan TV station Esports 3 claimed on Tuesday morning that Stark, 43, had been "put in the freezer" by UEFA's Referees Committee after committing three technical errors in the same passage of play during the 2-2 draw in Paris. He forced both Jordi Alba and Javier Mascherano to receive medical attention off the pitch and allowed play to continue in their absence.

UEFA's statutes say that play must be stopped if two or more players are in need of attention, that the referee must help them from the pitch, and that they should then return from the halfway line. None of these three rules appear to have been followed in the incident involving Alba and Mascherano.

However, Mundo Deportivo later said on Tuesday that Stark has not been definitively removed from consideration for further Champions league matches this season.

"Stark has not been punished," the Catalan paper say an unnamed UEFA spokesperson told them.

The officials' decision to allow Zlatan Ibrahimovic's subsequent goal in Tuesday's game, when the PSG striker appeared to have been two yards offside, was also heavily criticised by Barca. Midfielder Sergio Busquets, assistant coach Jordi Roura and defender Dani Alves led the protests, which culminated in the club making an official complaint to UEFA on Thursday.

"The club has written to UEFA due to a series of incidents on the pitch in the understanding that objectively speaking it was evident that the referee did not apply the rules of the game," Barcelona's spokesman Toni Freixa said at that point.

Barcelona have yet to receive an official response to their complaint, Mundo Deportivo claim.

Stark was previously criticised by Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho for sending off defender Pepe for a challenge on Dani Alves during the heated 2010-11 Clasico Champions league semi-finals. Barca's Brazilian full-back said last week that Mourinho's criticism had affected the German's performance at the Parc des Princes.

The experienced official had reportedly been in line to take charge of this season's final at Wembley, had both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund been knocked out by then. It is unlikely, though, that he will take any further part in the competition given his history with both Barca and Madrid, who are still involved in the tournament.

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