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May 6, 2009

UEFA: No chance of reprieve for Fletcher

Manchester United's hopes of overturning Darren Fletcher's red card have been dashed by UEFA, who state that overturning the Scot's suspension for the Champions League final would open a "Pandora's Box". UEFA have confirmed that a protest against a sending off would only be allowed on the basis on mistaken identity - and not on whether the referee had been too harsh.

Head of communications Rob Faulkner said: "Manchester United have the right to file a protest within 24 hours of the match however a protest against a caution or sending off is only admissible if the referee's error was to mistake the identity of the player."

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had hoped referee Roberto Rosetti would have admitted it was a mistake to give Fletcher a straight red card for a foul on Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas in the box.

"He's one of the most honest players in the game and to miss the final, it's a tragedy," said Ferguson.

"In respect to the referee in this situation he might look at it himself without anyone asking him."

Although the English FA have moved towards a position where referees regularly rescind red cards, both UEFA and FIFA strictly maintain the rules that match officials' decisions should remain sacrosanct.

A UEFA source added: "It opens Pandora's box if you can challenge every decision. And if you rule that it is not a red card, then you are also saying it is not a penalty, and therefore not a goal, and what do you do then - start changing the results of matches afterwards?"

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger also admitted the red card was "very harsh" after television pictures clearly showed Scottish international Fletcher - a non-playing substitute at last year's final - played the ball.

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