Conte laughs off docking 'joke'

LONDON • Antonio Conte has described the prospect of Chelsea being docked points by the Football Association as a joke.

The Blues face the sanction for their part in the 22-man flare-up at the end of their Premier League victory over Manchester City last week.

Conte's side returned to the top of the league courtesy of a 1-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, but could be hit with a points deduction after the FA charge for failing to control their players.

Chelsea were warned about the conduct of their players after being given a record £375,000 (S$674,360) fine for the bust-up with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge last season. The FA's report specifically mentioned the threat of a points deduction, but Conte appears unconcerned.

The Italian insisted that Chelsea were the victims at the Etihad in a brawl sparked by Sergio Aguero's dangerous challenge on David Luiz and claimed his players were simply defending themselves.

  • 1990

  • The last time a top-flight English club were docked points for disciplinary problems.

"Are you joking?" Conte said.

"For me if you are involved in a situation and the fault is not yours, you must pay? Why? I don't understand this. At the end of the game, my players tried to keep their calm.

"I don't understand this. You must be joking. You must be honest and understand which team is at fault."

He also insisted that it would be unfair for his team to be punished as a result of the club's past misdemeanours because Chelsea had not been charged by the FA before the City bust-up this season.

The FA's independent commission made it clear Chelsea's poor disciplinary record was a factor in their record fine last season, as Tottenham had to pay only £225,000 despite having a Premier League-record nine players booked during the game.

No top-flight club has been docked points for disciplinary problems since Manchester United and Arsenal were both punished for a mass brawl when they met at Old Trafford in October 1990.

Another large fine for Chelsea remains the most likely outcome.

"We had a bad record in the past, but now we're different," Conte added. "I think that, in every game, you fight a lot during 90 minutes and, when the referee whistles at the end, it's important to finish.

"I don't know what happened in the past. I know what happened in the present."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Conte laughs off docking 'joke''. Print Edition | Subscribe