Carlos Tevez was last night suspended for up to two weeks, but the Argentinian is facing the possibility of the ultimate sanction of dismissal for gross misconduct by Manchester City after refusing to play as a second-half substitute in Tuesday's Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich.
Following a day of talks involving manager Roberto Mancini, senior figures from within the club's hierarchy and City's legal advisors, Tevez was told to stay away from the Carrington training ground this morning as an internal investigation is launched into the events at the Allianz Arena that resulted in Mancini claiming that the striker was "finished" and would "never" play for the club again.
A fine of two weeks' wages, the maximum allowed under Football Association regulations, is also likely to cost Tevez a basic £400,000.
City are determined to fully investigate Tuesday's events, with players and coaching staff present on the bench at the time of the incident likely to be asked to provide observations, with television interviews also set to be reviewed.
Despite the prospect of writing off a playing asset valued at £50m by City during the summer transfer window, it is understood that the club's Abu Dhabi powerbrokers have not discounted the prospect of sacking Tevez for his actions in Munich.
Chelsea's decision to sack forward Adrian Mutu in Oct 2004 for testing positive for cocaine offers City a precedent. Mutu was then ordered to pay £14.6m in compensation to Chelsea in July 2009 for breach of contract, although there is no suggestion that Tevez's refusal to play for City is comparable to Mutu testing positive for cocaine.
Sacking Tevez is regarded as an option of last resort, but the 27-year-old's behaviour has angered players, management and administrators alike, with a huge majority of supporters voicing their fury at the former Manchester United forward and insisting that he should never play for the club again.
Having admitted in an interview with Sky Sports immediately after the game against Bayern on Tuesday that, "I didn't feel I was right to play, so I didn't," Tevez's representatives issued a statement on the player's behalf on Wednesday morning in which he said he "never refused to play".
Suggestions that Mancini told Tevez to "f*** off to Argentina", with the Italian also urging Edin Dzeko to "f*** off back to Bosnia", during the touchline row were put to City, who declined to respond.
But it has emerged Tevez was angered by Mancini telling him to continue warming up on the touchline after being overlooked in favour of Nigel de Jong as a 55th-minute replacement for Dzeko, who left the field shaking his head before throwing his boots to the floor.
Mancini then clashed with Pablo Zabaleta, who was sitting alongside Tevez in the dugout, after the defender was unable to warm up immediately due to a delay in tying his boot laces.
Having been made aware of hostile threads on fans forums calling for supporters to vent their anger at Tevez on his return to Manchester Airport with his team-mates in the early hours of Wednesday morning, City increased security at Terminal 3 prior to their arrival.
But with almost universal criticism of Tevez greeting his conduct in Munich, the club are mindful of the difficulty they face in assimilating the player back into the squad and it is understood that there is currently little appetite to do so.
Mancini has made it clear to chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak that he does not want the player at the club's training ground in the immediate future, but the former Inter Milan coach is understood to be opposed to the prospect of sacking Tevez.
His insistence that Tevez will not play for the club again will severely diminish the player's value when the transfer window reopens in January, but selling him at a substantially reduced fee remains a more appealing option than allowing him to become a free agent by cancelling his contract.
City have been told they would have the support of Fifa, however, should they wish to terminate Tevez's contract, with Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce claiming that the player's behaviour was 'despicable'.
Boyce said: "If Manchester City Football Club write to Fifa and state the exact circumstances that happened, then I believe Fifa should have the power, as they do for drugs-related cases and other cases, to ban the player from taking an active part in football.
"I would have no problem with that whatsoever. It hasn't occurred before, but I think what happened last night was despicable. If this player did what he has been accused of doing, then if Manchester City were to release him I don't think it would be right if he could go and earn a considerable amount of money somewhere else next week.
"I would have no problems if some sanctions were imposed by Fifa in that respect. People within the clubs and within the top level of Fifa need to discuss this aspect of the game.
"If Carlos Tevez does it, who's to say someone else doing it the next week or the week after? It could become a massive problem." (© Daily Telegraph, London)