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By ESPN Staff
Feb 21, 2007

Lille president blames goal on favouritism

Lille president Michel Seydoux has claimed Ryan Giggs' controversial Champions League matchwinner would not have been allowed to stand if Manchester United had conceded it.

The French club were fuming at Dutch referee Eric Braamhaar's decision to allow Giggs' quick free-kick seven minutes from time even though Lille keeper Tony Sylva was still lining up his wall.

Immediately after the restart, the Lille players booted the ball out of play, then made their way to the sideline in what appeared to be an attempt to get the game called off.

Sir Alex Ferguson branded the conduct 'a disgrace' but Seydoux claimed it was merely an emotional expression of frustration at a decision that would not have gone against United.

'If Lille had done the same thing the referee would not have allowed the goal,' he said. 'Our players could not understand the decision because it would not have happened at the other end.'

Seydoux also stated the Lille players were not attempting to stop the game but merely protesting against the official by heading to the sideline.

'It was not an attempt to get the game abandoned,' he said. 'It was an emotional moment and that is the way you put a reserve on the fourth referee. They are the French rules. Maybe it is not the same in the Champions League.'

UEFA seem sure to be busy investigating not only the 'walk off' but also the incident which led to riot police firing tear gas into the United section of the crowd early in the first half.

It appeared a massive over-reaction to what seemed a chilling reminder of the Hillsborough tragedy as fans were crushed against a 10-foot high security barrier.

At least two supporters, including one child, were lifted over the barrier when concern reached its height.

Early reports suggested ground officials had opted to let supporters with tickets for different areas of the ground into the enclosure which, if true, would be an astonishing act of negligence and one that would be virtually certain to result in severe action.

United officials met with their Lille counterparts immediately after last night's game, with FA and UEFA observers, plus representatives of the local police also present.

And United have urged supporters in the affected area to come forward with any relevant information.

'We have obviously received a lot of information from various sources but we would welcome any more detail from fans in the affected area because it is important we establish precisely what has happened,' said United director of communications Phil Townsend.