Benitez warned after ref gesture

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Football News

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has been warned for an "offensive" gesture towards referee Phil Dowd, but Liverpool claim disciplinary chiefs "expressed surprise" that another manager was not charged by the Football Association for exactly the same offence.

The Liverpool manager was found guilty of one charge of misconduct and cleared of two others by a regulatory commission and warned as to his future conduct.

Another manager, understood to be Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock, escaped action for a similar gesture - simulating a pair of spectacles - on the same weekend.

Benitez was charged following Liverpool's defeat by Tottenham on August 16, and the outcome of the disciplinary hearing comes in the week when the FA are to decide whether or not to charge Sir Alex Ferguson over his remarks about referee Alan Wiley's fitness.

The disciplinary commission stated: "A regulatory commission of the FA has found Mr Rafael Benitez guilty of misconduct in relation to a breach of FA Rule E3, arising out of a gesture made by him during a post-match briefing. The commission concluded the gesture was objectively offensive.

"The commission noted Mr Benitez's previous exemplary disciplinary record over 23 years as a coach and manager at the highest level of the sport. Taking into account all relevant factors, the commission concluded that the appropriate penalty was to warn Mr Benitez as to his future conduct with regards to interviews and press briefings."

Liverpool insisted, however, that the commission accepted Benitez was merely trying to be funny.

The club said in a statement: "The commission accepted that a gesture made with a pair of spectacles was 'in a non-malicious and humorous manner' and, taking into account Mr Benitez's previous unblemished record, warned him about his future conduct. No fine was imposed or costs awarded against the Liverpool manager.

"The commission also expressed their surprise at the failure of the FA to charge another manager who had made a similar gesture the same weekend."

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