Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was ‘largely culpable’ for his clash with Tottenham boss Antonio Conte, with his behaviour deemed ‘highly provocative’.
Both men admitted improper conduct charges following a touchline flashpoint sparked by a handshake at the end of the 2-2 Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge on August 14.
Tuchel, who was fined £35,000 and hit with a one-match touchline ban, said he continued to grip Conte’s hand as he felt the Italian had been disrespectful by not looking at him, prompting a melee involving players from both clubs.
Explaining its sanctioning decisions, the Football Association’s independent regulatory commission said the German’s reaction was ‘simply not justifiable’.
‘It was quite clearly TT (Tuchel) who instigated the confrontation between himself and AC (Conte) by choosing to grip AC’s hand and jolt him back after AC had passed him by,’ read the commission’s findings.
‘Had TT not gripped AC’s hand the confrontation between the two and the subsequent melee that followed would not have occurred.
‘TT gripping AC’s hand for the reason he gave (AC did not look him in the eye) was simply not justifiable; cursory handshakes are a common occurrence at the end of highly-charged football matches and there exists no obligation for one person to look the other in the eye whilst shaking hands.
‘TT telling AC to look him in the eyes whilst gripping his hand and not allowing AC to move away was a highly provocative act.’
Conte, a former Chelsea manager, was fined £15,000 but avoided a touchline ban.
He and Tuchel squared up to each other several times during the heated London derby, before both were shown red cards by referee Anthony Taylor following the full-time scuffle.
Conte said he had wished to quickly shake hands with Tuchel to avoid ‘any further unease’.
‘Due to his very firm grip my arm jarred causing me to be pulled backwards,’ said Conte, in his letter to the FA.
‘I was both surprised and unhappy that such handshake caused me to be pulled back with such physical force.
‘I did not overreact to this provocation and with the circumstances was proud of how I handled myself. Had I made any reaction then I understand the situation would have been much worse.’
The commission largely agreed with Conte’s assessment of the incident.
‘AC did react aggressively to TT’s actions but the commission did not consider him to have hugely overreacted given the circumstances,’ continued the report.
‘Whilst certain aspects of AC’s behaviour could be considered as being improper, indeed he admitted as much, the commission considered TT to be largely culpable for the incident and unanimously felt that this ought to be clearly and definitively reflected in the level of sanction imposed.’
Following publication of the commission’s written reasons, Tuchel will serve his touchline ban during Saturday’s home game against Leicester, having been permitted to be in the dugout for Sunday’s 3-0 loss at Leeds.