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May 7, 2009

Chelsea backing for Drogba's foul-mouthed rant

Guus Hiddink will support Didier Drogba if UEFA decide to punish the Ivorian striker over his post-match confrontation with referee Tom Henning Ovrebo and a foul-mouthed TV rant following their Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Barcelona.

Ovrebo was criticised by both Hiddink and Chelsea captain John Terry after the Norwegian official turned down four penalty appeals by the Blues and Drogba, who had been substituted in the second half, appeared from the tunnel to confront the official after the game.

• Mad Drog on the loose

He was kept away by Chelsea stewards but the Ivorian then yelled ''It's a f****** disgrace'' straight down a live TV camera as pandemonium descended on Stamford Bridge.

A UEFA spokesman said: ''We will see the report from the referee and match delegate before deciding whether to take any action or not.'' Adding: ''We never comment on the performance of the referee.''

With an investigation of Drogba's behaviour, Michael Ballack's reaction to a penalty decision in the final minute and possibly Terry's comments expected, Hiddink insists he will stand by the Ivorian.

''Of course I can fully understand his reaction - full of adrenaline and emotion,'' said Hiddink. ''People say he should be in control. The moment a player starts hitting then he is going beyond where he should go.

''I can understand his emotion and his behaviour after the game. I will protect that.''

But Hiddink admitted he found it hard to remember when he had seen such a poor refereeing performance.

''In big games like this you need top-notch referees who have had big experience in leagues like Spain, Italy, England and Germany,'' he added. ''There is an overall feeling of being robbed, injustice. That's why they were so hot and angry and I could understand the emotion of the players.

''Of course the players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes and referees can make mistakes, that's why we talk about giving the benefit of the doubt. But if you have seen three or four situations waved away, then it's the worst I have seen.

''In the first half you see Malouda was clearly pulled over in the penalty area and the referee had a perfect view on the vertical of the line. You see handball situations and the arms are up not down.

''With Anelka, the hand was lifted by Pique and when the shot came from Ballack, Eto'o lifted his upper arm but they were all waved away.''

Terry has also given his backing to the Ivorian, saying: ''I am fully behind Didier Drogba for the way he reacted. The man wants to win. You can see the passion that he played with during the game and the passion afterwards.

''It is difficult when players are so high on emotions after the game and people were saying in the Sky TV studios that we shouldn't be reacting the way we did.

''That's impossible after having six or seven decisions go against you at home in front of your own fans. I've seen them all and two were clear penalties and you don't get one. How are you supposed to feel?

The Blues' skipper may also face action from UEFA after a strongly worded criticism of Ovrebo.

''It's a shambles really,'' he said. ''Players dream of playing in these finals but we can't through bad refereeing. We get a referee who has refereed 10 Champions League games in his career and for him to be given the semi-final at Stamford Bridge is not good enough.

''If a referee makes bad decisions, he should face the consequences. If a player makes mistakes time after time, he will be dropped from the team, but referees just keep getting the big games at big stadiums.

''It is down to UEFA to be strong enough and say these are our four best referees and they are going to referee the home and away legs. Both sides had experienced players but we just didn't have the referee to go with a big game.

''If we had been given one of those penalties we would have been cruising at 2-0. We did exactly what the manager asked of us but we are not going through because of a bad refereeing decision. Not one player made a mistake over the two legs but we come away with a referee making four or five big errors and now we are out of the competition.

Terry would not accuse UEFA of a conspiracy to deny the London side a repeat of last year's final against United but he lashed out at the governing body for appointing such an inexperienced referee.

''The word conspiracy is maybe the wrong one,'' said Terry. ''It's difficult when players are so high on emotion after a game. However, people are saying we shouldn't have reacted the way we did.

''But the fact is, six decisions went against us in front of 40,000 people. And for the ref to not give one of them is unusual.

''So it's not surprising for us to come off the field and show that emotion. Why did we get a referee who has officiated in 10 games in the Champions League in his career? To be given the Champions League semi-final, that's not good enough.''

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