Saturday, February 24, 2007

Manchester United Opponent Lille Charged for Player Protest

Lille was charged by European soccer's governing body for a player protest during its 1-0 Champions League defeat against Manchester United, a match that was also marred by crowd disturbances.

Lille's players held up play during the Feb. 20 round-of-16 game after Ryan Giggs scored with a quickly taken free kick after 83 minutes. The French club, which said the goal shouldn't have been allowed, lost its request for a replay.

Giggs curled his shot into the net while Lille was still preparing its defensive wall and with goalkeeper Tony Sylva out of position. Lille kicked the ball straight out of play at the restart and its players walked to the side of the field where they surrounded referee Eric Braamhaar. A melee involving both squads ensued before the game resumed.

UEFA said on its Web site today it dismissed the protest because ``there was no proof of a technical error'' from Braamhaar. Lille has three days to appeal.

UEFA will also consider possible safety and security violations at the Felix-Bollaert stadium in Lens and the behavior of both sets of fans at a separate meeting of its Control and Disciplinary Body on March 22.

United fans had to be helped to safety by stewards after scaling a barrier to escape a congested stand. Lille blamed the problem on United fans arriving with fake tickets.

The clubs meet again on March 7 at United's Old Trafford stadium in the second leg.


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