Arsenal's Eduardo facing prospect of two-match ban for penalty 'dive'guardian.co.uk, Thursday 27 August 2009 19.07 BST
Eduardo da Silva could pay a heavy price for his theatrical tumble to win a penalty for Arsenal against Celtic in last night's Champions League play-off second leg, after Uefa announced that its disciplinary unit was studying footage of the incident and had the authority to ban him for two European matches if it felt he had cheated.
The Croatia striker was branded a "diver" by most of the Celtic team in the immediate aftermath of the 28th-minute flashpoint and once the tie had finished, in a comfortable Arsenal victory, the midfielder Massimo Donati called on Uefa to act. "If it's clear on television, then Uefa should ban Eduardo," he said.
The governing body has precedent behind it. In 2007 it banned the Lithuania midfielder Saulius Mikoliunas for two matches after replays showed that he had dived to win a penalty during his country's 3-1 defeat in a Euro 2008 qualifier away to Scotland. It was the first time a player had been retrospectively found guilty of behaving, according to Uefa statute, "with the obvious intent to cause any match official to make an incorrect decision". But there have since been other cases of players being suspended for cheating.
Scotland were so impressed by Uefa's stance on Mikoliunas that they adopted similar measures to combat "simulation" in their domestic game. The Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty was given a two-match ban for feigning injury, after video evidence proved he had not been butted by Aberdeen's Charlie Mulgrew.
Uefa does not want to re-referee games and is keen not to undermine its match officials, in this case the Spaniard Manuel Mejuto González. But equally, there is a will among its hierarchy not to allow gamesmanship to go unpunished. A decision is expected next week about whether a case will be opened against Eduardo.
Michel Platini, the Uefa president, hopes that a new initiative to bring in two additional assistant referees, one at each end of the pitch to the side of the posts, will serve as a deterrent to players who think about cheating. The scheme, which will see a referee and four assistants take to the field, will be introduced in the Europa League group phase next month. If it is convincing, Platini foresees its introduction worldwide after the World Cup finals next summer.
"I know why players do it, I've dived myself," said the former France international. "We did it because we knew the referee wouldn't see it and because there were no cameras. However, with our plan to bring in five officials, you will be spotted.
"It was always my dream to dive and get a penalty in the 1982 World Cup semi-final to make up for how Harald Schumacher fouled Patrick Battiston outside the penalty area. If I could have done it, I would because I hate injustice and I wanted to put things right. I just couldn't get into the box to do it."
Meanwhile, the Arsenal captain Cesc Fábregas has been named in Spain's squad for the fixtures against Belgium and Estonia, raising hopes that he could feature in Saturday's Premier League game at Manchester United, despite fears the midfielder would miss out because of his hamstring problem. Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, said Fábregas was "50-50" to play at Old Trafford after a positive training session.http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/aug/27/eduardo-arsenal-celtic-dive-ban-uefa