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Wenger given ban, fine for criticizing Milan referee

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UEFA has banned manager Arsene Wenger for Arsenal's next three European matches and posted a £33,000 fine for "improper conduct" after Arsenal's 3-0 win (and 4-3 aggregate loss) against AC Milan on March 6. Wenger confronted Slovenian referee Damir Skomina after the match and in his post-match interviews, saying that "he gave many free-kicks in the middle of the park" that shouldn't have been given (and considering Arsenal's 21-8 fouls against/fouls drawn ratio, I can't really fault him).

According to the London Evening Standard's James Olley, Wenger plans to appeal the punishment; he has three days to do so. My thoughts, after the jump.

I fully understand that UEFA wants to protect its referees, and by extension itself. I fully expected Wenger to receive punishment, and considering the fact that he's a repeat offender (this is the third time in the space of a year that he's received a UEFA charge: the first for Massimo Bussaca's horror show at the Camp Nou, the second for supposedly violating the first ban in the qualification matches vs. Udinese) I probably should have expected a more severe punishment. After all, you can't have manager complaining about referees, or people might get the idea that they aren't completely infallible!

What really grinds my gears is the fact that the fine Wenger got for saying a referee did a bad job is only slightly less than the £34,000 fine the Bulgarian FA was given late last year, after their fans racially abused Ashley Young in a Euro 2012 qualifier. It's almost exactly double what the Serbian FA was given a few years back, when their fans racially abused Justin Hoyte and Nedum Onuoha in a U21 tournament game. It's more than the fine Celtic also got today because their fans displayed a banner reading "F*** UEFA" in a match against Udinese in December.

The priorities of the organization seem a little off to me when monkey chants get essentially the same punishment (or arguably a more lenient one, since as far as I know, there were no suspensions involved in the Bulgarian incident) as annoying a referee. Was a fine deserved? Yeah, probably. It just seems like the racism stuff should be more heavily punished than this kind of thing. But hey, maybe that's just me.