MADRID – Atletico Madrid’s Argentine coach Diego Simeone was handed a 20,000-euro ($22,440) fine for his celebration during the 2-0 victory over Juventus in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16, the UEFA announced on Thursday.
Uruguay central defender Jose Gimenez had opened the scoring against the Italian team in the 78th minute, after which Simeone reacted by grapping his crotch, a celebration that prompted UEFA to open an inquiry.
The UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body decided “to fine the Club Atletico de Madrid coach Diego Simeone 20,000 euros for improper conduct.”
UEFA took into consideration the defense the Spanish club presented and decided not to impose a touchline ban on Simeone, meaning he will be able to lead his team from the field in the last leg of the round of 16 scheduled for Tuesday at Juventus Stadium.
Following the game, played at the Wanda Metropolitano – venue of the Champions League final scheduled for June 1 – the Argentine coach lamented his conduct.
“Before starting, you know I never search for excuses,” Simeone said at a press conference. “I want to apologize once again, like I did after the game to the people who were offended.”
“It was obviously an expression, a bad expression, of what I felt for my players. I say this in order to close the subject before you ask me what I think about it,” Simeone said.
The European soccer governing body also decided to fine Atletico 38,000 euros for blocking the stairways and throwing objects into the field, during the Feb. 20 match.
Juventus, meanwhile, was handed a 30,000-euro fine for delaying the start of the game, with the Serie A champion’s coach Massimiliano Allegri being warned for the same infraction.
Juventus, led by five-time Champions League winner Cristiano Ronaldo, will seek to add one more comeback of its own to the several rallies the Champions League round of 16 has witnessed thus far.
Ajax managed to turn around its 2-1 defeat in the first leg as it stunned Real Madrid 4-1 in the second leg, while Manchester United rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the first leg to advance to the quarterfinals having prevailed in the second leg 3-1.
Roma also let a 2-1 UCL round of 16 first leg advantage slip through its fingers as the Italian club lost on the road 3-1 in the second leg against Porto.