Bocanegra complaint is’pathetic mischief making’

Rangers brand complaint over Carlos Bocanegra

‘pathetic mischief making’

FURIOUS┬áRangers chiefs last night slammed the “pathetic mischief maker” who sparked a UEFA probe into Carlos Bocanegra’s Europa League eligibility.

The American yesterday was given the all-clear to face Maribor at Ibrox after Europe’s football chiefs rejected the Slovenians’ belated protest.

Maribor had pleaded with them to kick Rangers out of the competition, insisting Gers had broken the rules by fielding the Bocanegra in the first leg.

But the Ibrox club believe the complaint only arose after a rival fan allegedly sent a letter to the Slovenian Embassy in London claiming Scotland’s champions had not completed the necessary paperwork.

It is understood copies of the document, which appeared on supporters’ websites, found their way to Maribor officials before arriving at UEFA’s Swiss headquarters.

An official complaint was lodged but then dismissed on the grounds Maribor did not submit it within 24 hours of their 2-1 first-leg victory.

Rangers are relieved Bocanegra has been given the green light to play but are fuming the episode has interfered with their preparations for tonight’s crunch second leg clash in Glasgow.

An Ibrox source said: “We are aware of evidence that demonstrates the absurdity of this complaint.

“It is a pathetic attempt at mischief making and Maribor would have been better served trying to establish the facts first before making a complaint to UEFA.”

Bocanegra was signed from St Etienne on the eve of last Thursday’s first leg and started the match despite not having a visa which subsequently prevented him from playing at Motherwell.

But Rangers were always adamant they hadn’t broken any rules and did have the necessary paperwork enabling the American to take the field.

Gers boss Ally McCoist admitted the saga was a distraction he could have done without before such a vital clash but was confident the advice he had received from the SFA and UEFA on Bocanegra’s eligibility was spot on.

He said: “We were always confident that UEFA would throw out the complaint. We had the full backing of the SFA. They contacted UEFA on the day of the first leg to let them know Carlos was available to play.

“I think the reason he wasn’t able to play on Sunday was a border control issue in terms of entering the country and working.

“A visa was required for that which he now has. As far as I’m concerned we’ve done everything right.

“The SFA have backed us totally and they contacted UEFA last Thursday to clarify the situation. I think it was the same situation Dorin Goian faced. I believe he had the same authority to play against Malmo but would probably not have been able to play in the SPL.”

Maribor have three days in which to appeal UEFA’s decision but will wait until after tonight to decide.

Club spokesman Zlajko Latin said: “We made the complaint to UEFA because we felt we should.

“I cannot comment at the moment on what we will do next or whether we will exercise our right to an appeal. We will play the game first.”

Maribor boss Darko Milanic said: “I am not the right person to address these kind of questions to and it is a matter for the club to deal with.”