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Champions League ref smuggled out of England

  • Story Highlights
  • Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo believed to have been smuggled out of England
  • Norwegian received death threats after officiating Chelsea v Barcelona semi
  • Chelsea captain John Terry supports Didier Drogba's reaction after the match
  • Drogba has subsequently apologized for his actions in official club statement
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(CNN) -- Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo was understood to have been smuggled out of England by police after receiving a number of death threats following his officiating of the Champions League semifinal second leg between Chelsea and Barcelona -- according to the UK Press Association.

Tom Henning Ovrebo's refereeing of the semifinal between Chelsea and Barcelona has proved controversial.

Tom Henning Ovrebo's refereeing of the semifinal between Chelsea and Barcelona has proved controversial.

British police were said to be so concerned about his safety they changed his hotel before organizing his secret exit while, in Ovrebo's home city of Oslo, police said they were investigating threats made on the internet.

An Oslo police spokesman told PA: "We are watching closely what is being posted on the internet. Anything we believe would threaten his personal safety will be taken seriously."

Following the reports, Chelsea released a statement making clear they condemned any form of threat against players, officials or supporters.

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The statement on the club's Web site confirmed Chelsea would take the strongest action possible against any season ticket holders or members who were proven to have participated in threatening activity, but stressed that no evidence had been received implicating Chelsea fans.

Four years ago Swedish referee Anders Frisk retired after receiving death threats following his sending-off of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in a Champions League game against Barcelona. Chelsea issued a statement condemning the actions of those who had abused Frisk at the time.

Meanwhile, controversy still surrounds Chelsea's exit from this year's competition, with Ivory Coast striker Drogba confronting referee Henning after the game. However, Chelsea and England captain John Terry felt that Drogba had been justified to act in the way he did.

"I am fully behind Didier Drogba for the way he reacted," Terry told PA Sport. "The man wants to win. You can see the passion that he played with during the game and the passion afterwards."

The 28-year-old slammed the Norwegian referee and accused UEFA of making a mistake by appointing Henning to referee the semifinal second leg.

Chelsea looked to have set-up a repeat of last year's Champions League final against Manchester United before Andres Iniesta 93rd minute equaliser saw the Spaniards through on away goals.

But it was Henning's performance that left Terry and his Chelsea team-mates fuming after the Norwegian refused to award Chelsea two spot-kicks in the first half when Florent Malouda and Drogba were both brought down.

Then, in the second half, he turned down two handball penalty appeals after Gerard Pique handled as Nicolas Anelka tried to go past him and in the final seconds, after Iniesta's leveller, Michael Ballack's shot hit Samuel Eto'o's arm.

Ballack was so incensed he protested alongside the referee for 40 yards before getting a yellow card.

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Drogba, who had been substituted in the second half, then confronted the official after the game and received a yellow card for his protest before yelling an obscenity straight at the TV cameras.

"It is difficult when players are so high on emotions after the game and people were saying in the TV studios that we shouldn't be reacting the way we did," added Terry.

"That's impossible after having six or seven decisions go against you at home in front of your own fans. I've seen them all and two were clear penalties and you don't get one. How are you supposed to feel?

"It's a shambles really. Players dream of playing in these finals but we can't through bad refereeing. We get a referee who has refereed 10 Champions League games in his career and for him to be given the semifinal at Stamford Bridge is not good enough.

"Not one player made a mistake over the two legs but we come away with a referee making four or five big errors and now we are out of the competition. Maybe that referee would have been good enough in the group stages of the Champions League but on a big stage, with a big game and big players, he simply wasn't good enough."

Drogba has since apologized for his behavior in a statement on Chelsea's official Web site. "I was very upset at what happened during the game, but having seen the pictures on TV I accept that I overreacted," said Drogba.

The statement continued: "I also accept that the language I used did not set a good example for those watching at home, especially children. I regret that in the heat of the moment I let out my incredible frustration and disappointment in this way, and for that I apologize."

Chelsea also released a statement praising Drogba's apology and claiming his actions were fuelled by frustration. "Chelsea welcomes Didier's statement which was made honestly and after reflection.

"We are all acutely aware of the responsibilities that lie with both the club and its players towards setting a good example as role models.

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"While it is clear that some of the events last night were regrettable, they occurred only because of the high emotions and frustrations which arose from the disappointment of a controversial defeat in such an important game.

"We made representations to UEFA immediately after the game and we await their comments following a review of the match report."

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