EPL

Man City were damaged - Defiant Guardiola hits back at critics after CAS verdict

By Sports Desk July 14, 2020

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are owed an apology after Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho criticised the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision to lift the club's two-season ban from UEFA competitions.

City were hit with the punishment in February, following an investigation sparked by the Football Leaks revelations of November 2018, with European football's governing body finding the then Premier League champions to have breached Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

On Monday, CAS announced City did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions and stated the allegations brought by UEFA were either "not established" or "time-barred" under the organisation's own regulations.

City were fined €10million – down from €30m – for failing to co-operate with UEFA's investigation, a verdict that amounted to a resounding victory in light of what the club stood to lose, and it has not been warmly received by some of Guardiola's Premier League counterparts.

Liverpool boss Klopp described it as being not "a good day for football", while Spurs head coach Mourinho labelled decision to be a disgrace.

Guardiola expressed confidence in the stance of City's board throughout and remained similarly bullish when he addressed a news conference to preview Wednesday's match against relegation-threatened Bournemouth.

"I'm incredibly happy for the decision," he said. "It shows everything that people said about the club was not true. We will defend on the pitch what we won on the pitch.

"Jose and all the managers should know that we were damaged. We should be apologised to because if we did something wrong, we would accept the decision from UEFA because we did something wrong,

"We don't expect Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea or Wolves to defend us, but we have the right to defend ourselves when we believe what we have done is correct and three independent judges said this."

Continuing, Guardiola presented a counterpoint to Klopp's take.

"Today is a good day, yesterday was a good day for football because we play by the same rules as all the clubs in Europe.

"If we had broken Financial Fair Play, we would have been banned, but we had to defend ourselves because we were right.

"We were damaged. People said we were cheating and lying, and the presumption of innocence was not there. When we were proved right, we were incredibly happy because we can defend what we have done on the pitch."

City completed an unprecedented domestic treble last season under a cloud of suspicion created by FIFA, UEFA and Premier League investigations into their internal operations – the latter of which is yet to conclude.

Guardiola would like his team's on-field achievements to be judged on their own merits but does not expect the CAS verdict to serve as a remedy in this regard, claiming "whispering" Premier League rivals continue to sully the perception of his club.

"It would be nice, but I don't think so," he said. "What happened in recent years, how many times people came to our club, whispering about us.

"I would love it to finish and say to these people, if you want to say something, say it face to face.

"Go to the pitch and play on the pitch and after, if they beat us, don't doubt we will shake their hands and congratulate them. But they lost off the pitch. They have to go on the pitch and try to beat us, like the sportsmen that we are.

"Guys accept it, we want to be here and we tried on the pitch. If you do not agree, knock on the door and speak to our chairman and our CEO and talk.

"Don't go behind whispering, seven, eight, nine clubs doing this. Go and do it on the pitch. Let's go."

A fired-up Guardiola also had a response for LaLiga chief Javier Tebas, who questioned whether the widely respected CAS was an appropriate body to rule on such matters.

"He's another one, Senor Tebas must be so jealous of English football," he added, before applying some heavy sarcasm.

"He's an incredible legal expert from what I see. Maybe next time I'll ask them which court and judges we have to go to.

"He has to be worried and concerned about LaLiga and focus on there, but normally when the sentence is good for him it is perfect - it happens many times in Spain - but when it is against, the problem is for the other ones.

"We will be in the Champions League next season, Senor Tebas, because what we did, we did it properly."

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