UEFA may relax rules over touchline bans

NYON - UEFA may relax the rules which prevent banned coaches from communicating with their team during matches following the controversy involving Arsenal's Arsene Wenger.

UEFA, which has already agreed that coaches may remain on their feet in the technical area in this season's Champions League, said it sympathised with their view that being kept away from the touchline is punishment enough.

"UEFA will have a look at it," technical director Andy Roxburgh told reporters after a two-day meeting featuring some of Europe's top club coaches.

"They think there are enough problems with not being on the touchline," he said. "As far as they are concerned, that's more than enough, they would like to see the other elements removed, so this needs to be looked at."

Wenger was given a two-match European suspension by UEFA last month for breaking the rules of a touchline ban imposed for his behaviour in Arsenal's tie at Barcelona last season.

Although he sat in the stands for the Champions League play-off at home to Udinese when he was suspended, Wenger used a phone to talk to his staff during the first half until he was told to stop by match officials.

He was given a two-match ban for doing so, although that was then lifted pending an appeal by Arsenal.

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho also has two matches of a touchline ban to serve in the Champions League this season following his red card in last season's acrimonious semi-final with Barcelona.

Last season, coaches were allowed to get up to give instructions to their players but then had to sit down again. This season they will be allowed to remain on their feet in the technical area.

"As in all team sports, the coach is part of the spectacle, his intervention is important for the game," Benfica coach Jorge Jesus told reporters.

"UEFA has been sensitive about this, letting the coach give orders to his players.

"He can remain standing up within the confines of the technical area and doesn't have to return to the bench as was happening."

Coaches said another major concern was the standard of pitches in the Champions League.

"They want to see regulations tightened up regarding the watering of pitches, cutting of the grass and things like that," said Roxburgh.

"The stages that these performances take place on should really be of the highest standard everywhere."