Manchester United defender Phil Jones was taken aback by UEFA’s two-match ban for abusing a match official having seen worse behaviour go unpunished and leg-breaking challenges receive lesser sanctions.
UEFA recently dished out the suspension as the United defender allegedly insulted a doping control officer after May’s Europa League final triumph against Ajax.
Jones was also hit by a 5,000 euros fine for the incident, while team-mate Daley Blind was fined 5,000 euros for not immediately reporting for a test and United were fined 10,000 for the rule breaches.
The punishment handed down to the 25-year-old England international was most serious, though, meaning he missed the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid and will be absent for United’s Champions League opener against Basle.
“I knew on about 75 minutes that me and Daley were up for doping,” Jones said. “The doc told us, which is not a problem, fine by me, done it many times before.
“Went into the doping room straight after the game and wasn’t allowed into the changing room, which is fine as well.
“Usually you go in (to the doping room) you sign, you get your chaperone so they can see what you’re doing, you can go back into the changing room, get your mobile phone or whatever, get a drink come back it.
“But that wasn’t the case. It’s not as if we had just won the Mickey Mouse league, we’d won the Europa League.
“I’m sure anyone can understand that you work so hard all-year round to win a prestige competition like that and someone says you can’t celebrate with your team.
“We had planned to do the banner for the Manchester attacks, which is quite close considering we are a Manchester team, it was in Manchester but it wasn’t to be.
“Fully complied with rules and did my urine sample, did my blood sample and went on my way, then ended up with a two-game ban.
“To be honest, I couldn’t believe it. I think it’s slightly a bit harsh.
“You see players go in for leg-breaking challenges who get a one-game ban or a two-game ban.
“I could understand if I didn’t comply with the rules but I did. But, oh well, that’s football, that’s what they’ve seen.”
Jones would have been given a three-match suspension was it not for UEFA’s disciplinary body taking into account the background elements.
“I think anyone can understand that in a situation like that maybe there was language that was inappropriate, but it definitely wasn’t directed to the official himself,” he said.
“I definitely didn’t look at him in his eye and directly say that he was this and that.
“Looking back on it now, did I deserve a fine? Possibly, but a two-game ban I think was a bit out of the ordinary.”
Jones is understandably keen to move onto the incident and fully appreciates the importance of doping control in football.
“Hundred per cent but I fully complied with the rules, I did my urine, I did my blood, I was in and out in 30 minutes,” he added.
“They asked if I want to leave any comments, I said ‘no’, walked out the room – and I am sure they have seen far worse in their time.
“I have seen far worse and I am not going to name names, but I’ve seen far worse than that in my time and nothing has happened.
“I have moved on from that. It’s done now, I have got the one-game ban and I will serve it and look forward to the Champions League.”