Drogba faces wait on Uefa verdict
Didier Drogba hounded referee Ovrebo after the final whistle
Didier Drogba will have to wait until next week to discover if he is to be punished over the angry scenes which marred Chelsea’s Champions League exit.
European football’s governing body Uefa said on Friday that a decision would be reached “in the course of next week”.
Striker Drogba verbally abused referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.
He has apologised for his actions, but both he and Chelsea are expected to face disciplinary action.
In a statement, Uefa said: “Uefa has received both the referee’s and [match] delegate’s report.
“It is currently examining those reports, as well as gathering additional evidence. It will decide which action to take in the course of next week.”
Drogba and several team-mates surrounded Ovrebo after the final whistle to remonstrate with the Norwegian official over several of his decisions.
Drogba continued his verbal attack even after being booked, and had to be restrained as Ovrebo went down the tunnel.
In a statement issued by the club, the Ivory Coast international, 31, admitted he had overreacted.
“In the heat of the moment I let out my huge frustration and disappointment. For that, I apologise,” he said.
“I also fully accept that the language I used did not set a good example for those watching at home, especially children.”
Chelsea’s main gripe with Overebo, who also controversially sent off Barcelona’s Eric Abidal, was the rejection of a number of penalty appeals.
And, while they understood their players were “role models” and called some of the actions “regrettable”, they are not expected to take any action against Drogba following his apology.
Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink said: “It’s up to me and the board and I don’t think Didier will be disciplined because apologising openly is a big step forward. We have to go on.
“Didier has apologised for his over-reaction on TV which was not good. We talked about it and he mustn’t react as he did.
“It came out of the frustration at the manner of our elimination and that we weren’t awarded the penalty kicks.
“From that emotion comes an over-reaction for which the player has apologised.
“Uefa have the power to take measures but they have to take into consideration the emotion of the injustice that was felt.
“It’s up to them what they do but when people apologise for their behaviour it’s the first step towards the normal things in life.”
But Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor was critical of Drogba’s conduct, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: “It is not acceptable.
“It will have to be punished [by Uefa]. But having been a player, you knew where Drogba was coming from.”
Taylor also suggested the Chelsea staff could have done more to defuse the situation.
“You could see there were going to be problems at the end of the game and that’s why stewards and security should have been very careful to make sure that no-one got near the referee,” he said.
Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallacher said he was surprised by Ovrebo’s performance.
He told the BBC: “Of the five key decisions he got three wrong – Drogba was a penalty, shirt pull and trip, and should have been a red card – the trip on Nicolas Anelka wasn’t a foul, Abidal is very unlucky. Gerard Pique was the easiest decision of the five, as it was a clear handball.
“This guy is not new – 22 Champions League games is quite a CV – and he’s been on the Uefa list since 1994. He’s cool, calm, collected, profile on the rise, as it was on the night it proved a step too far.”
Barcelona have not appealed over Abidal’s red card.
Uefa general secretary David Taylor denied Barcelona’s progress was the result of any “conspiracy” to avoid a repeat of last season’s all-Premier League final.
“I spoke to the Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon at the end of the match and he fully accepts there are no conspiracies at all,” he said.
“When we get to the top level we expect better in terms of players’ behaviour.
“Refereeing is an extremely difficult job. All I would ask is a bit more respect is shown towards officials.
“Notwithstanding the high emotions, high drama, high stakes involved, these guys are out there in the middle having to make decisions just like that, on the spot.
“Of course there are questions from time to time about refereeing standards, but that’s looked at continually in terms of performances. That’s what we do as a responsible organisation.”
PFA boss Taylor added that the controversy over Ovrebo’s performance underlined the need to use video technology.
“It is too much pressure on the referee,” he claimed.
“I don’t understand why they don’t make use of technology to make sure decisions are right. It is used in other sports and used well.”
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, whose team face Barcelona in the final on 27 May, said Chelsea let their emotions get the better of them on the night.
“It is an emotional game and we have seen that time and time again,” he said. “When you have cooled down you think ‘I am sorry I did that’. It happens.”
Ex-Chelsea manager Avram Grant, who took the club to last season’s Champions League final, said Drogba and his team-mates should not be judged too harshly.
“I don’t agree with [their conduct] but I think we need to keep proportion,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Football players have emotions, but they did what they did and we need to move forward.”
Meanwhile, Ovrebo has asked Uefa to hold a news briefing in Norway so he can discuss Wednesday’s match. He has also said he is ready to return to refereeing in the Norwegian Premiership next weekend.