LONDON: Chelsea reacted with dismay last night after being stung by Uefa sanctions that could potentially mean Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa will be banned for six and four European games respectively for their misdemeanours after last month's Champions League semi-final elimination by Barcelona.
The governing body's control and disciplinary body met yesterday to assess four charges brought against Chelsea and their players following the 1–1 draw against the eventual European champions at Stamford Bridge. Its verdicts reflect its reluctance to impose fines that would make little dent in players' salaries and, seeking to lay down a real deterrent, Uefa banned Drogba for six matches, two of which have been deferred for a probationary period of two years, and Bosingwa for four, one of which has been suspended.
The club was fined ¤100,000 (£85,000) after being found guilty of failing to control their players, livid after the referee Tom Henning Ovrebo's erratic performance, and for the behaviour of supporters who pelted the officials with bottles and other missiles as they left the pitch.
Chelsea had been braced for hefty punishments but are understood to have been surprised by the severity of the suspensions, having anticipated that a larger proportion of the banned games would be deferred. They are considering whether to appeal and have three days to make a decision, though an announcement either way is expected today. "We have received the Uefa verdict and we will now take time to assess it in full and consider our response," said a spokesman.
Drogba indicated after last month's FA Cup final that he would accept any punishment handed down by Uefa, although Chelsea appear minded to appeal. The club is due to receive written explanation for the sanctions this morning and will scrutinise the findings. Chelsea's defence to the charges, submitted in writing to the committee, had been based around Ovrebo's controversial display – four plausible penalty appeals were waved away before Barcelona won the tie in stoppage time – and the fact that both players apologised for their conduct. The club had hoped that greater leniency would be shown given the inflammatory nature of some of the Norwegian referee's decisions.
The bans effectively rule Drogba out of two-thirds of next season's group stage in the Champions League and Bosingwa – who had attracted the interest of Bayern Munich – out of three of the six games. The Ivorian had anticipated a three-game ban, with a further two matches deferred, after re-entering the playing surface at the end of the game to berate Ovrebo before screaming repeatedly "It's a fucking disgrace" at a television crew broadcasting live. His protests continued in the tunnel.
The 31-year-old, who is on international duty with the Ivory Coast, will be dismayed at the severity of the sanction. et the length of the suspension is unlikely to have an immediate impact on his future at the club.
Chelsea anticipate holding discussions with Drogba, who has 12 months to run on his contract, over a new three-year deal upon his return to pre-season training next month. The new manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is keen to work with a striker revived during Guus Hiddink's brief tenure.
Whether Bayern pursue their interest in Bosingwa – a potential make-weight in Chelsea's pursuit of Franck Ribéry – remains to be seen. The full-back described Ovrebo as a "thief" in an interview with Portuguese television, comments he later retracted. Uefa found both Chelsea players "in breach of the principles of sportsmanship by insulting the referee by making offensive comments".