Soccer-Top FIFA official backs under-fire referee Eriksson


Feb 19 (Reuters) - FIFA referees committee chairman Jim Boyce defended Jonas Eriksson on Wednesday after Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini criticised the official following the 2-0 home defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League.

Pellegrini questioned Eriksson's impartiality and accused the Swede of deciding the outcome of the last-16 first leg tie at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

The Chilean also said a referee from Sweden should not have been put in charge of such an important match and that he had "no control" of the game.

"My own personal opinion is I thought the referee had a good game," Boyce told the BBC.

"He is a very experienced referee who has been chosen for the 2014 World Cup because of excellent reports of his performances in Europe," added Boyce who is also vice-president of soccer's ruling body FIFA.

"It is absolute nonsense to say a referee should not be chosen because he comes from a smaller country. If the referee has proved himself at the top level it should not matter what country they come from."

Eriksson, who has refereed 22 Champions League ties and a total of 87 matches in UEFA competitions, awarded Barcelona a second-half penalty even though the first point of contact from Martin Demichelis on Lionel Messi seemed to occur outside the area.

The second leg at the Nou Camp is on March 12. (Reporting by Mark Pangallo; editing by Tony Jimenez)

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