Aurier banned to travel to London for Champions League game

Getty Images

PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier will miss Wednesday’s Champions League match at Arsenal after being banned from traveling to London by British authorities.

The French club said in a statement it is “stunned” by a decision that “attacks the very integrity of the UEFA Champions League,” while UEFA expressed “its deep disappointment.”

According to PSG, Aurier’s visa has been revoked by the British Home Office because the Ivory Coast player was sentenced to two months in prison in September for assaulting a police officer. Aurier has appealed the verdict and was allowed to remain free.

The match at Emirates Stadium is of crucial importance for both clubs, with the winner guaranteed first place in Group A and likely avoiding tougher opposition in the knockout phase.

“It is regrettable that a player eligible for the competition will not be able to take part in the match for reasons which are not related to football and its regulations,” UEFA said in a statement.

Aurier was arrested near the Champs-Elysees in Paris in May following an argument with police after a night out. He denied hitting an officer but was charged with voluntary violence on a person in public authority. PSG said the appeal meant Aurier is “entitled to the presumption of innocence” and should have been entitled to travel.

“Paris Saint-Germain strongly regrets that the presumption of innocence has not influenced Britain’s decision,” PSG said. “On several occasions, UEFA has also transmitted its total support of Paris Saint-Germain to the British authorities regarding this case, in order to preserve the integrity of its competitions.”

PSG also criticized British authorities for informing the club at a late notice on Tuesday, “despite the club working for the last six days to find a solution to enable our player to travel with his teammates to London.”

Widely regarded as one of the best right backs in Europe, Aurier is a key player at PSG. But he has also been making headlines for the wrong reasons in recent months. He was suspended for six weeks in February after a video emerged on social media showing him making derogatory comments about then-PSG coach Laurent Blanc, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and other players.

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this story.