Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has hit out at fellow managers of English clubs over what he described as as a campaign against the club over Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
Guardiola expressed his disagreements with Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool and Jose Mourinho of Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, a day after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) removed the suspension UEFA had handed to City – and reduced their initial €30m fine to €10m.
UEFA had accused City of breaking their Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules by overstating sponsorship revenue in their accounts and in the break-even information submitted between 2012 and 2016, as well as failing to co-operate with its investigation.
But according to CAS, “most of the alleged breaches reported were either not established or time-barred”.
Klopp said the decision to overturn the ban was not “a good day for football”, while Mourinho described the ruling was “disgraceful and a “disaster”.
But speaking at a pre-match press conference before his team’s game with Bournemouth on Wednesday, Guardiola asked the English clubs to challenge City on the pitch rather than working through the boardroom to diminish the Manchester-based club.
The Spanish manager said the clubs should behave as sportsmen by determining issues on the pitch instead of employing other techniques at variance with football to defeat his club.
He said: “People said we were cheating, lying, many times.
“I know for the elite clubs, Liverpool, [Manchester] United, Arsenal are not comfortable us being here. But we deserve to be here, we deserve to be stronger, year by year,” he told reporters as he continued to take aim at City’s rivals.
“We have incredible people working in this club to make this club better, to make our fans proud and we don’t have to ask permission to be there.
“When we lose I shake their hands and congratulate them, all the time we have done it, even if it’s unfairly in the Champions League. Guys accept it, we wanted to be here and we tried on the pitch.
“If you do not agree, knock on the door and speak to our chairman and chief executive and talk, don’t go whispering. We are going to do this – seven or eight clubs doing this.
“Go and do it on the pitch, not behind [closed doors]. In 10 years we’ve made a step forward. We invested a lot of money but we did it in the right things.
“We are not banned, we followed the rules for FFP as they decide [them]. If not we’d be banned.
“What happened in the last years, how many times people came to our club with this whispering on us. I’d love it to finish, I’d like to say these kind of people: ‘Okay, look in our eyes and if you want to say something, say it face-to-face, and then go on the pitch and play as rivals’,” he said.
“If after you beat us, I won’t hesitate, we’ll shake hands and congratulate them, but they lost off the pitch. They have to go on the pitch and try to beat us on, like sportsmen that we are.”
The City boss also said that both Klopp and Mourinho know how to contact him to express their grievances about the club and the FFP, adding that he grant them audience.
“If they want to talk, I’m here,” he said.
“The sentence from the three independent judges was clear. But, if they want, they know my telephone number, they can call me and I can explain. It’s not a problem at all.
“But I think we don’t have to discuss a lot because the sentence was clear. All the suggestions that we were lying or cheating, it was not like this. We were clean, like they say are.”
Guardiola, whose future in Manchester had been in doubt amid the possibility of the ban, said he is delighted for his squad, who will retain the opportunity to play in Europe’s top competition.