Wenger gets 3-match UEFA ban for comments to ref

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) -- Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger got a three-match touchline ban from UEFA on Friday for comments directed at the referee after his team's Champions League elimination this month.

UEFA said its disciplinary panel found Wenger guilty of "improper conduct," and fined him €40,000 ($53,000).

The French coach will serve his third UEFA ban within a year if Arsenal qualifies to play in next season's Champions League or Europa League.

He can challenge the verdict at UEFA's appeals panel within three days of receiving the detailed verdict.

Wenger criticized Slovenian referee Damir Skomina after Arsenal was ousted by AC Milan in the last-16 round, despite a 3-0 second-leg victory. The London club had lost 4-0 in Italy.

Last year, Wenger was found guilty of a similar UEFA charge after Arsenal was knocked out by Barcelona at the same stage of the Champions League.

Then, he argued angrily with Swiss referee Massimo Busacca who had sent off Robin van Persie during a 3-1 defeat in Spain.

Wenger served his ban during this season's playoff round first-leg match against Udinese, but incurred a further ban for breaking rules by communicating with Arsenal's coaches from his seat in the stand.