Manchester United have reported Europa League referee Manuel Grafe to UEFA for refusing to be searched before the Europa League game with Feyenoord.
The German official arrived at Old Trafford with the rest of his team two hours before kick-off. But when security stopped Berlin-based Grafe at the entrance for players and officials to search him and his bag he refused. The 43-year-old Bundesliga referee said he was an UEFA-endorsed match official and was not required to be searched on entering any ground. Staff from Controlled Event Solutions, who operate security both inside and outside Old Trafford, explained searches were mandatory for all visitors. Fans, match-day staff, media and directors are all searched if requested, with United sensitive about security having suffered high-profile recent breaches. However, at the same moment as the stand-off involving Grafe, United boss Jose Mourinho entered without being asked to undergo a similar search. As such, Grafe refused and made his way to the referee’s room with his team. United’s chief security officer was called, and Grafe was reported to Estonian Alnar Leppanen, UEFA’s match delegate for the night. Referee Grafe later apologised to staff, but claimed he had never been asked to submit to a search while on referee duty.
After looking into the case and speaking to the official, UEFA have elected to take no further action against the match official. They believe their officials, similar to club players and coaching staff, should not be controlled in such a manner as they are officially accredited by the association. "The referee had asked questions about the search procedure," said a UEFA spokesman. "The matter has been discussed with the club and there is, in this regard, no consequences for the referees".