Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa and his side received FIFA’s Fair Play award for their sportsmanship shown in a match against Aston Villa last season.
Bielsa ordered his team to allow Villa to equalise after Leeds scored a contentious opener in a 1-1 Championship draw at Elland Road.
Leeds midfielder Mateusz Klich scored while a Villa player was down injured on the pitch which led to a second-half melee.
Bielsa told his players to “give the goal” and although defender Pontus Jansson unsuccessfully ignored the instructions, Villa forward Albert Adomah ran the length of the half unchallenged to equalise.
Bielsa also said at the time that he would pay the club’s FA fine for failing to control their players during the draw.
Bielsa did not attend the ceremony in Italy but Leeds captain Liam Cooper collected the award on his behalf.
🙌 #LUFC captain Liam Cooper and fitness coach Benoit Delaval collect the @FIFAcom Fair Play Award on behalf of Marcelo and the squad for their actions against Aston Villa last season pic.twitter.com/0oWFNUJXPq— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 23, 2019
A club statement on Bielsa’s behalf read: “I want to think FIFA and Leeds United and their fans, who did not question my actions.
“They could have claimed that I had to respect the ruling of the official.
“When choosing how to act, the most difficult thing is not to distinguish between right or wrong, but to accept the consequences of doing what corresponds.”
Leeds were involved in controversy three months before when Bielsa admitted he sent a club employee to spy on Derby County’s training ground before a league match.
Leeds defeated Frank Lampard‘s Derby side 2-0 and following the game, Bielsa apologised for the incident.
“It’s true, there was someone from Leeds there,” he said at the time. “The responsibility for this incident is mine.
“I’m the only one responsible for it, I didn’t ask Leeds for permission to do that. I’ve been using this kind of practice since the World Cup qualifiers with Argentina.”