José Mourinho effectively accused Uefa of fixing it for Barcelona to reach the Champions League final after his Real Madrid team were beaten 2-0 at home by their fiercest rivals in an ugly and controversy-filled first leg of their semi-final.
Mourinho claimed it was “impossible” for Madrid to defeat the dark forces lined up against them after a night on which he and his defender Pepe were sent off. Two goals by Lionel Messi followed those dismissals to leave Barça on the verge of the final, where they look certain to meet Manchester United.
Madrid’s coach accused Barcelona of wielding untouchable power in European football and said their coach, Pep Guardiola, should feel “ashamed” if he wins a competition that “yet again” is engulfed in “scandal”. Barcelona also had a man sent off, their substitute goalkeeper, José Pinto, for his role in a mass brawl as the teams left the field at half-time. The incident was one of numerous flashpoints.
“One day,” Mourinho said, pointedly using the Barcelona coach’s full name, “I would like Josep Guardiola to win this competition properly.” That was a reference to the controversial semi-final victory of Guardiola’s team over Chelsea en route to their triumph in 2009.
Mourinho, who has had a player sent off in all four meetings with Barcelona this season and with Internazionale in last season’s semi-final, said that he did not want to say what he “really thinks” because he feared a life ban but he did insist he felt “disgusted” to be working in football. In the end there was little holding back. The accusation was hardly a veiled one.
Mourinho claimed his red card and that handed to Pepe were unjustified and that this was not the first time Barcelona’s opponents have been singled out for unfair punishment. He reeled off a list of referees whom he said had “favoured” the Catalan side, pointing an accusing finger at those who he sees as engaged in a pro?Barça conspiracy. He insisted that the evidence is unavoidable and asked: “Why?”
“If I tell Uefa what I really think and feel, my career would end now,” Mourinho said. “Instead I will just ask a question to which I hope one day to get a response: Why? Why? Why Ovrebo? Why Busacca? Why De Bleeckere? Why Stark? Why? Because every semi-final the same things happen. We are talking about an absolutely fantastic football team, so why do they need that? Why? Why does a team as good as they are need something [extra] that is so obvious that everyone sees it?
“Why Ovrebo [two] years ago [when the Norwegian referee did not give Chelsea a series of penalties against Barcelona]? Why couldn’t Chelsea go to the final? Last year it was a miracle that Inter got there playing with 10 men for so long. A miracle. Why weren’t there four penalties against Chelsea [in 2009]? Why send off [Arsenal’s Robin] Van Persie [in the last 16]? Where does their power come from?
“It could have been 0-0 tonight, but then suddenly we are down to 10 men and they have a free path to find solutions that they could not find before then: we could have played for three hours and they would not have scored. But today we have seen that it is not difficult – it is impossible.
“The question,” Mourinho continued, “is why? I don’t know if it is the Unicef sponsorship or if it is because they are nice guys. I don’t understand. Congratulations to Barcelona on being a great team and congratulations for all the other stuff you have which must be very hard to achieve. They have power and we have no chance. Chelsea had bans for Drogba and Bosingwa; Wenger and Nasri were banned for Arsenal; me today. I don’t know why. All I can do is leave that question here in the air and hope that one day I will get the response. They have to get to the final, and they’ll get there, full stop.”
Asked if Madrid, trailing 2-0, were now out, Mourinho replied simply: “Yes, yes.” There was a pause and then he added: “We will go there with pride and respect for football. It is a world that sometimes disgusts me to live in and earn a living from, but it is my world. We have to go there without Pepe, who didn’t do anything, without [the suspended] Ramos who did nothing, without a coach who can’t be on the bench. It is impossible. And if we score a goal and open up the tie a little, they will just kill it again. Tonight we have seen that we do not have any chance.”
Mourinho sought to discredit Barcelona’s 2009 Champions League success and any victory they may have this season.
“Josep Guardiola is a fantastic coach,” he said, “but I have won two Champions Leagues. He has won [only] one Champions League and that is one that would embarrass me. I would be ashamed to have won it with the scandal of Stamford Bridge and, if he wins it this year, it will be with the scandal of the Bernabéu. I hope that one day he can win a proper Champions League. Deep down, if they are good people, it cannot taste right for them. I hope one day Guardiola has the chance of winning a brilliant, clean championship with no scandal.”
On their website, Barcelona responded to the Portuguese’s comments by threatening to report him to Uefa. “Barcelona’s legal department will study the declarations made by José Mourinho to determine whether to refer them to Uefa,” a club statement read.
“In the post match press conference, Jose Mourinho severely criticised the referee (Wolfgang) Stark and insinuated that Uefa treated Barcelona favourably.”