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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 12:07 GMT
Chelsea in danger of losing respect
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was branded "the enemy of football" by Uefa after the retirement of referee Anders Frisk, which followed claims of death threats being issued to the flamboyant Swedish official.

Now - and with even greater significance and danger - Uefa has made it clear that Mourinho and Chelsea are the sworn enemies of European football's governing body.

Rarely has there been a more scathing and uncomplimentary condemnation of a club than the Uefa crimesheet delivered in the wake of the Champions League first leg against Barcelona in the Nou Camp.

Chelsea's management team are accused of being part of a deliberate deception over allegations that Barcelona coach Frank Rikjaard entered Frisk's dressing room at half-time in the game, which Chelsea lost 2-1.

Uefa dressed it up nicely with word-play but Chelsea were effectively portrayed as liars.

Mourinho, assistant Steve Clarke and security official Les Miles have been cited, with Chelsea accused of creating a "poisoned and negative" atmosphere and pressurising match officials.

It is the latest sorry episode in a saga of arrogance that has transformed Chelsea from an amusing rouble-run sideshow into a club winning a reputation for bullying and an unsavoury willingness to ride roughshod over the rulebook.

It is also damaging the reputation of Mourinho, who was supported by genuine public goodwill when he arrived at Stamford Bridge from Porto.

He was greeted as a breath of fresh air with his outspoken views on all subjects but he is in danger of being saddled with the tag of being an expert in sharp practice.

Let's not fall into the trap of berating Chelsea for buying the Premiership because this is hypocrisy of the highest order as Manchester United did it before them.

Mourinho is wonderfully compelling and successful but he cannot be allowed to run out of control - and neither can Chelsea.

And how sad it would be if his deeds, along with those of players like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Damien Duff, did not receive their due credit because of ill-feeling towards their club.

There is much to admire at Stamford Bridge - but not a great deal to love.

Annulment of result
Order that match be re-played
Awarding of match by default
Disqualification from competition

If Uefa has proof that Chelsea's version of events from the Nou Camp are false - and to deliver such a savage attack it must be hugely confident - the Londoners' stock inside football's global village will fall further.

Uefa is unlikely to impose the ultimate sanction on Chelsea and disqualify them from the Champions League - leaving a touchline ban for Mourinho and a club fine the likely options.

Chelsea may regard it as a penalty worth paying - a small price out of the bottomless pit of cash fuelling their bid for European domination.

There is, however, something at stake that may not matter too much to Chelsea now, but will ultimately affect their standing in the European game and the respect they receive for their achievements.

And that is their reputation as a club with style, grace and a sense of decency. Or not.

Anders Frisk
Swedish referee Anders Frisk received death threats

Football at the elite end is vulgar enough to openly admit that winning is all that matters, and the more cash you collect along the way the better.

But if Chelsea had embarked on a deliberate campaign to have their success viewed with cynicism, while shredding the remainder of their reputation outside Stamford Bridge, they are doing a magnificent job. The attempt to lure Sven-Goran Eriksson from England was shabby treatment for the dignified Claudio Ranieri, who was still manager of the Blues at the time.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon's bungled bid to secure the Swede backfired but Eriksson came up smelling of roses with a new four-year contract from the Football Association he had betrayed.

And Chelsea turned to a far more superior option in Mourinho.

Everyone's a winner.

Chelsea could not even win the Carling Cup without controversy, with Mourinho sent from the dug-out for appearing to taunt the Liverpool fans.

Chelsea are still subject to an inquiry for the alleged tapping-up of Arsenal's Ashley Cole, with no-one now even attempting to deny that an illegal meeting took place in a central London hotel.

Apart from the grubby spectacle of claim and counter-claim from the main protagonists - which even included a suggestion that Chelsea had already secured Liverpool's Steven Gerrard for next season - the behaviour involved was crass, even by football's standards.

Call it arrogance. Call it stupidity. Chelsea probably won't care. And that is the problem.

Everyone with the flimsiest connnection with football knows tapping-up is common currency - but not necessarily in a very public place where there is every likelihood of being caught.

But that's the modern-day Chelsea.

Then came Barcelona - and perhaps the incident that might finally bring some humility to a club that has, as yet, achieved little in global terms but has managed to offend a lot of people.

Uefa's accusations are not something even Chelsea can laugh off or avoid - and there are many in the game who would enjoy the sight of Mourinho and company being put firmly in their place.

This would be sad because what Mourinho has achieved in his first season has been truly outstanding and players like Lampard and Terry are a true credit.

But the line must be drawn somewhere - and Uefa appears ready to do just that.

Chelsea hit with charges by Uefa
22 Mar 05 |  Chelsea
Cole commission may be appointed
16 Mar 05 |  Arsenal
Chelsea manager branded a 'liar'
16 Mar 05 |  Chelsea

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