Txiki Begiristain meets referees’ chief Mike Riley to discuss player protection

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Head of referees Mike Riley met Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain at the City Football Academy on Tuesday to discuss the club’s concerns over what they perceive to be dangerous tackles.

Pep Guardiola has raised the issue of player protection on several occasions this season following tackles committed on City players.

Mike Riley (centre) was seen leaving the City Football Academy on Tuesday following his meeting with Txiki Begiristain
Mike Riley (centre) was seen leaving the City Football Academy on Tuesday following his meeting with Txiki Begiristain

Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane have all suffered injuries this campaign following tackles from opponents.

Riley was pictured leaving the City Football Academy shortly before Guardiola faced the media ahead of City’s Champions League match against Basel on Wednesday.

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When asked about the meeting between Riley and Begiristain, Guardiola said: “I didn’t know Mike Riley was here.

“But when I spoke about the tackles it was not about Manchester City players – it’s about football. I understand the physicality of the game here in England, and I accept it.

“There are tackles and there are violent actions, and what we defend is the football and the players. It’s simple. I will speak with Txiki and he will tell me about the meeting.”

Leroy Sane suffered an ankle injury from a tackle by Cardiff's Joe Bennett in the FA Cup in January
Leroy Sane suffered an ankle injury from a tackle by Cardiff’s Joe Bennett in the FA Cup in January

Guardiola confirmed he was not part of the meeting, adding: “We (Riley and I) spoke last season so it’s not necessary.

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“Of course if you have some doubts it’s good to have the communication and listen to their point of view. But for me it’s ok.”

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