The Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes referee Lee Mason was pressured into writing the report that allowed the English Football Association to charge and ban Wayne Rooney for his expletive-laden rant.
Sir Alex says he believed Mason had been ordered to mention he would have sent off Rooney had he heard Rooney's tirade, a fact that enabled the FA to charge the England player.
Rooney's two-match ban was confirmed on Friday after the FA dismissed an appeal from United for the severity of the suspension to be reduced.
Both United and Rooney have expressed their disappointment at the suspension and Ferguson says he believed undue influence had been brought on Mason, who he said had "put himself in a terrible position".
Rooney swore directly into a pitchside television camera after clinching a hat-trick as United came from behind to beat West Ham 4-2.
Ferguson admits he had never held out much hope Rooney's appeal would be successful, but says the ban had knitted United closer as they continue to chase victory in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.