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May 8, 2009

UEFA to decide on Chelsea punishment next week

UEFA will decide "in the course of next week" what disciplinary action to take against Chelsea for their behaviour toward the referee after Wednesday's contentious Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

The Blues had four penalty claims turned down during the 1-1 draw, which saw Barcelona through to the final, and European football's governing body confirmed on Friday that they had received match reports from referee Tom Henning Ovrebo and their match delegate detailing the angry scenes that followed the final whistle.

Disciplinary chiefs will now study the reports "as well as gathering additional evidence" before deciding on what action to take but a high-ranking source close to UEFA warned: "Watch for the fallout - it could be tough."

The source, quoted in The Times, added that a hefty fine was the likely punishment, but forcing Chelsea to play their opening home group-stage match next season behind closed doors, or at a neutral venue, could not be discounted.

As many as four Chelsea players could face individual charges after surrounding Ovrebo in an aggressive manner and for their post match comments. The London club could also face a charge of failing to control their players.

Didier Drogba is facing the stiffest sanction following his lengthy confrontation with Ovrebo on the pitch and in the tunnel, although his public apology may lessen any punishment.

Michael Ballack could also be charged for running 40-yards to confront the Norwegian referee after the fourth penalty appeal was turned down during the game - an act for which he was yellow-carded.

Chelsea full-back José Bosingwa faces sanctions for describing the official as a "thief" who was "bought", although he has since retracted those comments, while skipper John Terry also criticised Ovrebo as emotions ran high at the end of the semi-final.

A UEFA spokesman said: "We will see the report from the referee and match delegate before deciding whether to take any action or not."

"Drogba could be banned for a number of matches, we don't know how many. It would be decided by a controlling body, if they decide to open the decision.

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, along with opposite number Pep Guardiola, questioned some of the referee's decisions but UEFA will not be drawn into any discussion about his performance or suggestions that they did not want another all-English final.

The UEFA spokesman added: "We never comment on the performance of the referee."

UEFA's general secretary David Taylor dismissed any suggestion of a conspiracy to avoid a repeat of last year's all-Premier League final.

Hiddink was repeatedly asked about "a conspiracy" at the post-match news conference - something that infuriated Taylor, who pointed the finger at the media instead.

Taylor said: "If anything it's a media conspiracy against UEFA. It does make me angry. It really annoys me because it's a load of rubbish."

UEFA also confirmed they had not been contacted by Barcelona about a possible appeal against Ovrebo's decision to send off Eric Abidal following a second-half clash with Nicolas Anelka.

"No protest has been received with respect to the red card shown to FC Barcelona player Eric Abidal.''

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