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PSG star refused entry to UK ahead of Champions League tie against Arsenal

SoccerBy Sunday World
Serge Aurier
Serge Aurier

Paris St Germain defender Serge Aurier has been refused permission by British authorities to travel to England for Wednesday's Champions League match against Arsenal.

The French club announced that Aurier, a 23-year-old Ivory Coast international, had been denied an entry visa because of a recent assault conviction.

In a statement, Paris St Germain said: "Due to a sudden about-face by the British authorities, Serge Aurier has not been allowed to travel with Unai Emery's squad for the clash away to Arsenal. Paris Saint-Germain is stunned by this incomprehensible situation that attacks the very integrity of the UEFA Champions League."

Aurier was given a two-month prison sentence on September 26 for assaulting a police officer. The incident occurred on May 30 outside a Paris nightclub when the 23-year-old was originally arrested and placed in police custody.

He has appealed against the judgment, his French club said, declaring that on such a basis he should be presumed innocent.

PSG also say they have the support of UEFA, European football's governing body and the organiser of the Champions League.

The Ligue 1 champions said Aurier had been initially granted permission to travel with the rest of the squad to London, before a decision last Wednesday reversed the ruling.

The statement added: "After an initial application on 18 October, complete with all the necessary documents, the British authorities had originally granted Paris Saint-Germain's Cote d'Ivoire international an entry visa to the UK on 21 October. However, on 16 November, his visa was finally revoked by the British Ministry of the Interior (Home Office), who justified their about-face by citing Aurier's conviction on 30 September, 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 team-mates 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 UEFA spokesman said the European governing body had sent letters to the Football Association and the Home Office supporting the request of PSG for a visa to be granted to Aurier and that it was "standard procedure whenever visa-related issues happen" for them to do so.