UEFA to take United to task over failure to meet 'obligations'

old traffordBy Andrew Warshaw
March 7 - UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Manchester United following their highly contentious Champions League defeat by Real Madrid on Tuesday.

European football's governing body is taking action over both Nani's red card and the "non-fulfilment of post-match media obligations" by United manager Alex Ferguson.

The eagerly awaited showdown between two in-form giants, watched by a global audience of millions, was going United's way until Nani was controversially sent off by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir in the 56th minute for a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.

Real, a goal down at the time, went on to win 2-1 and 3-2 on aggregate and afterwards United defender Rio Ferdinand sarcastically applauded Cakir after the final whistle as teammates surrounded him.

Nani's red card, shown countless times since amid general incredulity at the decision, is subject to a disciplinary review which will rule whether an automatic one-match ban should be extended. But just as big a talking point was Ferguson's furious reaction and his refusal to appear for the post-match press conference, with assistant Mike Phelan taking his place.

UEFA rules state all managers must attend post-match press conferences but Phelan explained Ferguson was not in the right frame of mind. Reading between the lines, that meant he would probably have said something he regretted but his non-appearance will now be investigated by UEFA.

In addition, United disregarded the Champions League requirement of a minimum two players talking to the media in the so-called flash zone.  UEFA says its disciplinary panel will judge the case on 21 March.

With this year's final at Wembley to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the English FA and with Ferguson unlikely to have too many more chances of winning Europe's top club prize before he retires, United had huge hopes of going all the way. Instead, English clubs will likely have no representation in the last eight for the first time in 17 years (assuming Bayern Munich complete the demolition of Arsenal next week at the Allianz Arena).

Since the United-real clash, it has emerged that Cakir has received abuse and death threats via Twitter. But UEFA says he will remain on its list of officials to take charge of  top games for the rest of the season.

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