Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has apologised for his controversial attack on referee Jonas Eriksson after his side’s loss to Barcelona in midweek.
Pellegrini faces possible sanctions from UEFA after saying Eriksson was “not impartial” and questioning why a referee from Sweden had been appointed to the Champions League fixture.
The Chilean also suggested Eriksson was trying to make amends for perceived injustices against Barca in a previous fixture he officiated involving the Spanish champions.
Pellegrini now regrets the comments about Eriksson’s nationality and concedes his other complaints were out of character.
City were beaten 2-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie at the Etihad Stadium with the game hinging on a controversial penalty conceded by Martin Demichelis – who was also sent off – early in the second half.
Pellegrini said: “When you lose a game the way we lost against Barcelona, you are frustrated, you are angry.
“Maybe I said some things I didn’t mean so I apologise for what I said.
“Also I want to clarify what I said, I didn’t make any serious accusations to anyone, not to the referee, not to UEFA, not to anyone.
“I always say refereeing is a very difficult profession because they have only have a fraction of a second and after people compare their decisions with eight television cameras.
“It is not my way to act to criticise the referee, but in that case it was not a good day and he decided the game – but not with the intention to benefit Barcelona or damage Manchester City. He was in a bad day with very bad luck.”
UEFA, the European governing body, has launched an investigation into Pellegrini's comments and will determine in due course whether disciplinary proceedings should follow.
Pellegrini, speaking at a press conference to preview this weekend’s Barclays Premier League game with Stoke, addressed each of his complaints.
Attempting to clarify his remarks about Eriksson’s impartiality, Pellegrini said: “I felt from the beginning his criteria was not the same for both teams.
“I think he had a bad day – everyone can have a bad day – but I didn’t say that intentionally he didn’t give fouls for us or did give fouls for Barcelona.
“I said from the beginning it was not the same criteria. I repeat, a bad day, not dishonest.”