Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter has been fined 25,000 euros, 15,000 of which has been suspended, after being found guilty of misconduct by a European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Thursday.
The South African was handed the charge over comments he made to the media in the wake of his side's Heineken Cup defeat to Leinster at Wembley on October 16, and he has been found guilty of bringing the ERC, Heineken Cup, the match officials and the sport itself into disrepute.
The ERC ruling read: "The independent disciplinary committee found that Mr Venter was guilty of misconduct in that he had been inappropriately critical of ERC, the tournament, the match officials and the sport of rugby union, and imposed a fine of 25,000 euros."
The statement continued: "However, the Committee decided that 15,000 euros of the 25,000 euros fine would be suspended until 30 June 2012, and would be payable only if Mr Venter is found guilty of further acts of misconduct arising from ERC tournaments before that date.
"The Committee concluded that Mr Venter's comments to media representatives were contrary to the 2010/11 Heineken Cup Participation Agreement, and it commented that in the future, the appropriate channels should be used for any communication on such matters. "
Venter had been furious at the performance of referee Christophe Berdos in the 25-23 defeat, and warned the International Rugby Board that the game was in danger of being ruined by confusion over the interpretation of the breakdown area.
He said: "Before the Heineken Cup began, I asked if we would have a conference so all the officials from abroad were in tune as to the new interpretations of the laws.
"Instead, we got some European referees in the Premiership, but there is a real danger that if we don't take action going into a World Cup year, the game of rugby is going to die, be killed stone dead because the public won't come to watch.
"We will end up playing one type of rugby in the league, another in Europe and when you get to the World Cup, wait and see which referee you get.
"Last season we won 10 games in a row playing a kicking game, a horrible game to watch, but necessary because the breakdown regulations favoured defending teams. I may consider returning to that in Europe because there is no system in place to complain about these problems, and that makes it a flawed competition."