Paris Saint-Germain have expressed their fury after being told that Serge Aurier will not be allowed to travel to England for the match against Arsenal.
The Ligue 1 champions have accused British authorities of a sudden “about-face”, after claiming they were told that the full-back has had his visa revoked as a result of a criminal conviction issued in September for assaulting a police officer.
PSG believe Aurier has been denied a presumption of innocence to which he is entitled, given that he is appealing against the conviction, which carries a two-month prison sentence.
The club are also adamant that they made Britain’s Ministry of the Interior fully aware of the criminal case from the outset, and that they had initially been granted a visa irrespective of those proceedings.
The timing of the decision from UK authorities – just a little over 24 hours before their key Champions League clash at the Emirates Stadium – has prompted PSG to accuse Britain of “a flagrant lack of respect for the club”.
“After an initial application on October 18, complete with all the necessary documents, the British authorities had originally granted Paris Saint-Germain’s Ivory Coast international an entry visa to the UK on October 21,” a PSG statement released on Tuesday read.
“However, on November 16, his visa was finally revoked by the British Ministry of the Interior, who justified their about-face by citing Aurier’s conviction on September, 30 2016.
“Paris Saint-Germain had, in all transparency, informed the British authorities of this conviction, as well as Aurier’s appeal against this decision (and the legal suspension of the ruling) from the outset.
“The club has argued several times that since the player has launched a legal appeal against the criminal ruling, he is therefore entitled to the presumption of innocence, as any other person exercising their right to appeal.
“Paris Saint-Germain strongly regrets that the presumption of innocence has not influenced Britain’s decision. 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.
“The club also deplores that the final decision of the British authorities was only communicated at 14:00 CET 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.
“Paris Saint-Germain considers this extremely tardive response as a flagrant lack of respect for the club, given that its player could have been training with the team just hours later at Emirates Stadium.
“In the face of this decision, albeit difficult to understand in respect to European law, Paris Saint-Germain, who had planned to travel to London with its strongest possible squad, invites its fans to be more united than ever, in support of their club.”
A victory for either side would guarantee top spot in Group A.