Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hit back at the club’s critics in the wake of a two-year ban from the Champions League being overturned, while he declared that any ‘whispering’ rival teams must step up and beat them on the pitch.
City were deemed guilty of Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches by UEFA and banned from all European competitions until 2022. But the Court of Arbitration (CAS) concluded that the club did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship and overturned the punishment. A €30m fine was also cut €10m.
The subject was always going to be the main line of questioning as Guardiola faced the press ahead of this week’s Premier League clash against Bournemouth, but BBC journalist Simon Stone noted that there was not even a single question about the actual game.
Guardiola came out in staunch defence of City, as was to be expected, and claims that apologies are to the club in light of some of the accusations that were made.
“We should be apologised [to],” the Spaniard stated.
“If we did something wrong, we will absolutely accept the decisions. We have the right to defend ourselves when we believe what we have done is right.
“If we broke the rules we would have been banned. The club believed what they have done is right and three judges have said we have done it properly. The people who said we were cheating and lying, presumption of innocence was not there.”
Guardiola also stated that City ‘don’t have to ask permission’ to be on equal footing alongside Europe’s elite clubs in the Champions League.
“We deserve to be there. Guys, accept it,” he stressed.
“We try to be there and we have done it on the pitch. Don’t go behind [closed doors] and whisper. [Beat us] on the pitch. For 10 years we have made a step forward. We followed FFP rules.
“It would be nice [if criticism stopped] but I don’t think [it will]. They have to go on the pitch and try to beat us like we tried to do it like the sportsmen we are.”
Guardiola also had particular words for La Liga president Javier Tebas, who has been a vocal critic of both City and Paris Saint-Germain in relation to FFP regulations.
The City boss suggested that Tebas should focus on his own league instead.
“Señor Tebas must be so jealous of the Premier League,” Guardiola commented.
“He’s an incredible legal expert. Next time I’ll ask him which judges we have to go to. He has to focus on La Liga. He is one of these people: when the sentence goes [benefits him], it’s perfect, it happened many times in Spain.”
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