Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini, who is being investigated for his comments about referee Jonas Eriksson following City’s 2-0 loss at home to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg on Tuesday, apologized for his comments on Friday, insisting that he never questioned Eriksson’s integrity, and that he did not make the argument that a Swedish referee is unable to take charge of a UCL game of that magnitude.
“When you lose a game the way we lost against Barcelona, you are frustrated, you are angry,” Pellegrini said. “Maybe I said some things I didn’t mean in that way so I apologize for what I said.” He added: “Also I want to clarify what I said: I didn’t make any serious accusations about anyone, not about the referee, not about UEFA, not about anyone. I said the referee decided the match because he decided the match. He didn’t give us a foul against[Jesus] Navas [prior to the play that led to Barca’s penalty] and after came the penalty against Martin Demichelis and we had a player sent off.”
The Chilean went on to say that Eriksson “decided the game, but not with the intention of benefiting Barcelona or damaging Manchester City. He was in a bad day with very bad luck because he is mistaken in that foul that decides the game but we saw after on TV that it was a foul and it wasn’t a penalty [although it was] maybe very near the edge of the box. But I didn’t say he was a bad referee, that he was not honest, that he cannot referee in UEFA [competitions].” Pellegrini added that because Eriksson officiates in the Swedish league, he is not used to refereeing games that have the same magnitude as the UCL Round of 16.
Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Rob Hughes points out that Pellegrini ignored the fact that Eriksson gave Man City some breaks as well.