A FIFA chief has slammed Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini after the Chilean condemned the referee’s performance at the Etihad on Tuesday night.
Pellegrini had accused the Swedish official of being ‘not impartial’ in the Champions League defeat to Barcelona, as well as questioning Jonas Eriksson’s pedigree with reference to his nationality.
However, FIFA vice-president, Jim Boyce, who also chairs the governing body’s referees’ committee, dismissed the City manager’s critique of the official as completely unfounded.
“It is absolute nonsense to say a referee should not be chosen for an important match because he comes from a smaller country,” he said.
“If the referee has proved himself at the top level it should not matter what country they come from.
“He is a very experienced referee who has been chosen for the World Cup because of excellent reports of his performances in Europe.”
Pellegrini had implied that Eriksson favoured the Spanish champions in the 2-0 defeat, which has left his side with a mountain to climb in the second leg.
Following the contest Pellegrini was noticeably upset by the official’s performance after he failed to give a foul on Jesus Navas which resulted in the Catalans’ 54th minute opener.
The 60-year-old claimed post-match that Eriksson, who awarded a penalty against City and subsequently sent off Martin Demichelis, influenced the game in Barcelona’s favour.
“There is more important football in Europe than in Sweden. I am not happy because he decided the game,” Pellegrini said.
“A big game with two important teams, that kind of game needs a referee with more experience.”
Eriksson, 39, has been officiating football matches for nearly 20 years, a factor in him being selected by FIFA for the World Cup finals in Brazil.
And unfortunately for Pellegrini, who may face a UEFA charge upon the submission of Eriksson’s match report, Boyce begged to differ.
“I read the remarks that were made by the Manchester City manager,” he said. “I saw the game and my own personal opinion is that I thought the referee had a good game.”
City will now travel to the Camp Nou with a seemingly impossible task after Dani Alves’ 90th goal all but assured Barca’s progression in the tournament.
However, The Citizens are hopeful that top scorer Sergio Aguero will be fit for the return leg after sustaining a hamstring injury that has side-lined the Argentinian for almost a month.
Picture courtesy of Action Images / Carl Recine, with thanks.