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FA explains Fergie punishment

The Football Association has accused Sir Alex Ferguson of undermining the Respect campaign when explaining its decision to hand the Manchester United manager a five-game ban.

Ferguson was given the punishment by an independent regulatory commission, and fined £30,000, following his comments about referee Martin Atkinson in the wake of a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea at the start of March.

In a post-match interview with MUTV, Ferguson said: "You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway - and we didn't get that. I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst."

The commission has now publicised its reasons for hitting Ferguson with the ban, and explained that his refusal to apologise for his comments contributed to the punishment.

They stated: "The commission was referred to Sir Alex's previous disciplinary record, which included several misconduct charges. Although it was his entitlement to do so, he denied the present charge in the face of a strong, if not compelling, case against him.

"Although he denied any intention to question Mr Atkinson's integrity, he should, at the very least, have realised the import of what he said. It follows that any credit to which Sir Alex may have been entitled by admitting the charge, and reduction in sanction, was lost.

"In addition, it follows from his denial of the charge that no clarification or retraction of any of his comments has been made by Sir Alex and no apology given to Mr Atkinson, even after the charge had been brought.

"The commission regarded this as a serious aggravating feature and rejected Sir Alex's case that his use of the word 'fair' was effectively retracted during the interview itself. The commission also took the view that Sir Alex's comments undermined the attempts by the association, through its Respect campaign to encourage higher standards of behaviour within the game, including respect for officials."

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