After a personal hearing Friday requested by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the English Football Association has banned him from the sideline for the Gunners’ next four games.
The ban stems from a sideline incident with fourth official Anthony Taylor in a Premier League match last weekend against Burnley. Wenger protested a stoppage-time penalty awarded by referee Jon Moss and after being sent off, shoved Taylor while trying to watch the game from the entrance of the tunnel by which players and officials enter and leave the field.
Wenger was accused of using “abusive and/or insulting words” towards Taylor and it is alleged the manager called Moss a cheat, which Wenger denies. Burnley converted the penalty kick to tie the game, but Arsenal put away yet another penalty to win the match, 2-1. Wenger apologized for his behavior after the final whistle.
“I regret everything,” he said. “I should have shut up, gone in and gone home. I apologize for that. Look, it was nothing bad. I said something you hear every day in football. Overall, nine times out of 10, you are not sent to the stand for that. If I am, I am, and I should have shut up completely. I was quite calm during the whole game, more than usual. But just in the last two or three minutes.”
Of pushing Taylor, which Wenger did not deny, the manager said, “I was sent to the stands. I didn’t know if I was sent to the stands but I was sent out. I thought I could watch it from the corridor, you know.”
Under conditions of the ban, which starts Saturday when Arsenal plays a fourth-round FA Cup match at Southampton, Wenger cannot be on the touchline or the team's seated technical area. He can communicate to the bench by an electronic device or runner from a location in the stands during the game and also speak to the players at halftime as well as before the match.
If no replay of the FA Cup match is needed, Wenger will serve the last three games of the ban during Premier League matches against Watford, Chelsea, and Hull City. In England, such bans are honored in league and domestic cup matches and are not restricted to the competition in which the incident or offense occurred.
An independent regulatory commission that heard the case could have banned him from the stadium entirely but instead imposed a sideline ban. After the incident, the FA charged him with misconduct and granted his request for the personal hearing that was conducted Friday. In addition to the four-match ban, he has been fined 25,000 pounds ($33,000).