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May 11, 2009

Fletcher forced to accept Rome final suspension

Darren Fletcher's attempt to get his suspension from the Champions League final overturned has failed. UEFA have confirmed that the red card that the Manchester United midfielder was given for a foul on Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas will stand.

Fletcher's tackle on the Spaniard looked to have won the ball before the Scot collided with the Gunner. Referee Roberto Rosetti awarded a penalty and then sent off Fletcher for being the last man, a decision which looked harsh on TV replays.

UEFA choose not to have recourse to overturn decisions, eschewing the use of TV evidence and Fletcher will miss a match he seemed certain to start after being an unused substitute in last year's final. There is no formal appeals process in place so United's chances were remote in the first place. Speaking after United's Manchester derby victory on Sunday, Fletcher seemed resigned to his fate.

Barcelona meanwhile will have their own absentee in Eric Abidal, the French defender's attempts to get his dismissal against Chelsea also falling on the deaf ears of the governing body. Dani Alves, to no-one's particular surprise, will also miss out after his yellow card was rubberstamped.

UEFA said in a statement: "All three players are therefore suspended for one UEFA club competition match and will serve their bans when Barcelona meet Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final in Rome on May 27.

"In reaching its decision, the Control and Disciplinary Body concluded (i) that the protests had not been submitted within the required 24-hour deadline of a match for filing protests - as specified in the disciplinary regulations - and (ii) that even if they had been admitted they would have been rejected as unfounded as there were no grounds for contesting the referees' original decisions."

Following the issuing of UEFA's statement United ruled out any further attempt to overturn Fletcher's ban.

A United spokesman said: "Darren is an honest player and we felt we should do what we could to try and help him become eligible for the Champions League final by initially protesting his dismissal.

"However, we respect the referee's decision and we will therefore not be appealing against today's ruling.''

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