FA criticises Sir Alex Ferguson for Atkinson comments
Ferguson was banned for five matches and fined £30,000 by the FA
The Football Association has ruled that Sir Alex Ferguson risked damaging football's integrity in his criticism of referee Martin Atkinson.
Craig Moore, chairman of the FA Commission that punished the Manchester United manager, wrote Ferguson had "undermined the FA's Respect Campaign".
"Respect for referees integrity is essential for the integrity of football," barrister Moore said.
Ferguson was banned earlier this month for five games and fined £30,000.
The FA ruling came after the Manchester United boss stated that his side did not get a "fair or strong" referee in their 2-1 Premier League defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 1 March, which Atkinson officiated.
Moore commented that Ferguson's failure to apologise to Atkinson after the comments were made was a "serious aggravating" factor when punishing him.
"Although he denied any intention to question Mr. Atkinson's integrity, he should, at the very least, have realised the importance of what he said," Moore added in the full findings of the FA's Independent Regulatory Commission.
"His vast experience ought to have left Sir Alex in no doubt as to how any sense of injustice he may have felt should properly be channelled and expressed."
Moore said that Ferguson's failure to retract the comments or apologise to Atkinson "undermined the attempts by the FA, through its Respect Campaign, to encourage higher standards of behaviour within the game".
Ferguson opted not to contest the FA's ruling and began his five-match touchline ban with the game against Bolton on 19 March.
The 69-year-old will be away from the dug-out for United's Premier League games against West Ham, Fulham and Everton, as well as the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley on 16 April.
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