Germany slam Loew quarter final ban
BASEL (Reuters) - UEFA decided on Wednesday to ban Germany coach Joachim Loew from the touchline for Thursday's Euro 2008 quarter-final against Portugal, prompting an angry reaction from German officials.
Loew and Austrian counterpart Josef Hickersberger were sent to the stands just before halftime by referee Manuel Mejuto of Spain in their final Group B match on Monday after a row involving the fourth official, Damir Skomina of Slovenia.
A UEFA disciplinary committee met on Wednesday and, after considering Mejuto's report and statements from the German and Austrian soccer federations, decided to ban both for one match.
UEFA said Loew would be allowed to follow the Basel match from the stands but would not have access to the dressing room, tunnel or technical area before and during the match and would not be able to contact his team.
Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff promised they would follow the ruling to the letter but slammed the move as a "serious setback" for soccer.
"As sportsmen we simply cannot fathom the UEFA decision and absolutely can't understand it," he said in a statement.
Speaking later at a news conference in Basel, Bierhoff suggested a fine might have been more appropriate and said he hoped UEFA President Michel Platini would look again at the regulations to stop other coaches being banned in future.
"It's not a good decision for football," Bierhoff said. "Everyone saw the coaches were not arguing with each other.
"But there is an excellent president at UEFA. He knows how important players and coaches are to football and I'm sure he'll go back and discuss this with his committee."
German soccer federation (DFB) general secretary Wolfgang Niersbach said in a statement he was "very disappointed" and that he was convinced Loew had done nothing wrong.
Loew, who did not attend the eve-of-match news conference at the stadium, also expressed disappointment in the DFB statement but declined further comment.
Referee Mejuto told Reuters in an interview he was delighted with the decision.
"I am very happy that the committee backed my decision, which was the right and only decision," Mejuto said.
As co-hosts Austria are already eliminated from Euro 2008, Hickersberger's ban will apply to the first qualifying match of the 2010 World Cup, UEFA said.
(Additional reporting by Kevin Fylan, Erik Kirschbaum and Darren Ennis)
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