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Piqué won't face Uefa sanction for forcing yellow in London

Sources at the governing body told AS that there is no basis to open an investigation into the Barça defender's challenge on Danny Welbeck.

Piqué won't face Uefa sanction for forcing yellow in London
Matt Dunham AP

Uefa have elected not to punish Gerard Piqué for appearing to incur a yellow card against Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday night, which meant he will serve a one-match ban in the return leg at Camp Nou and be free to play in the quarterfinal first leg, if Barcelona go through. The defender, after a conversation with Barça manager Luis Enrique on the touchline minutes earlier, scythed through Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck, leaving the referee with no option to go for his top pocket.

As soon as the match was over speculation began that Uefa may sanction Piqué with a ban of more than one match for apparently forcing the caution. Article 15 of the Uefa statutes states that “unsporting behaviour” of any kind should be punished. Piqué’s foul on Welbeck could be interpreted as falling under that rule but Uefa sources told AS that there is “no real basis” to pursue the matter as Piqué may well have gone in with a similar challenge whether he was a card away from a suspension or not.

For Piqué to receive a lengthier ban from the governing body the incident would have needed to be included in match referee Cuneyt Çakir’s report. A second option would have been for the Uefa delegate in the stands at the Emirates Stadium (Jim Hansen, a member of disciplinary committee) to have mentioned it in his own report on the match. However, neither did do. “There was no reason for [Hansen] to include it” the same sources said. Barcelona also feel the same way and the offices of the Camp Nou’s legal department are confident the one-match ban will not be increased retroactively.

There is a precedent: former Levante captain Sergio Ballesteros forced a caution in a match against Helsingborgs IF in 2012-13 and was handed an extra match ban by Uefa, meaning he missed two matches against Hannover and Olympiacos, with the ban not subject to appeal. However, in Ballesteros’ case the action was deliberate and did not take place during a passage of play. Ballesteros was booked in the fourth minute of stoppage time for time-wasting.

Despite Piqué and Enrique’s chat on the touchline in London, it is impossible to prove that the subsequent booking was premeditated. Neither player nor coach commented on the matter after the game.