LONDON: Arsene Wenger has been handed a three-match touchline ban and a £40,000 fine after a misconduct charge from the Football Association over comments he made about the refereeing of the holiday game against West Bromwich Albion.
In a separate case, Wenger has also been asked by the governing body to provide his observations on what he said about penalty decisions which went against the Gunners in both their matches over the festive period.
A statement from the FA on Friday evening read: “Arsene Wenger will serve a touchline ban for Arsenal’s next three matches after he was charged with misconduct.
“It follows an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today at which the Arsenal manager admitted that his language and behaviour in the match officials’ changing room after the West Brom game on Sunday was abusive, improper and questioned the integrity of the match referee. He was also fined £40,000.”
The veteran French coach had been left less than impressed after the 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns on New Year’s Eve, when defender Calum Chambers was penalised by referee Mike Dean for a handball.
Wenger will start his touchline ban for Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie at Nottingham Forest before the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea on January 10, as well as next weekend’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth.
Arsenal also conceded another late spot-kick in their Premier League fixture against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday when Eden Hazard went down following a challenge from Hector Bellerin.
The match ended 2-2 after defender Bellerin netted an equaliser in stoppage time.
Wenger was asked about the issue of his controversial comments during a press conference on Friday morning ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup tie.
“I maintain what I said in the press conference (after the Chelsea game) – 100 per cent. I have nothing to change in that,” the Gunners boss said.
“I’ve been in England for 21 years and I try to serve this game with honesty and integrity and when I have something to say I will say it. On that front, nothing will change, never.
“You imagine that I’ve been in the game for 21 years. What I’ve seen and heard in the corridors from people, you might understand that I’m surprised and shocked at having been charged.”
Wenger maintains his claim that the spot-kick awarded against Bellerin was “farcical”, standing by the comment and adding: “I respect everybody’s opinion.
“I think it was a yellow card for Hazard. One hundred per cent (he dived). I have a right to have my opinion and I respect everybody’s opinion.”
When it was pointed out to Wenger that Jack Wilshere was accused of diving in the same match, the 68-year-old replied: “Maybe he did, but why should that change my opinion on the penalty? It has nothing to do with the penalty.
“You have your opinion and I have my opinion and I’ve been in the game long enough to know that everybody can have a different opinion.
“We want to see big football games with big players on the pitch and you want them to be refereed by top-quality people. I want them to be at their top and I’m quite surprised that’s shocking.”