Wenger fury over UEFA's Eduardo 'witch hunt'

LONDON: Arsene Wenger has accused UEFA of launching a witch hunt against Eduardo after European football's governing body began disciplinary proceedings against the Arsenal forward following his Champions League dive against Celtic.

After complaints by Celtic and Scottish football bosses, UEFA decided to study video evidence of the incident, which saw Eduardo win a penalty by falling theatrically to the ground despite no evidence of contact being made with Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against the Brazil-born Croatia international for "deceiving the referee" and Eduardo could now be handed a two-match suspension that will rule him out of the Gunners' first two Champions League group games.

Wenger is furious with the decision because he believes it singles out Eduardo for an offence committed by players across Europe every week.

"I find it a complete disgrace and unacceptable," Wenger said. "We won't accept the way we have been treated in this case for two reasons.

"I believe that you can debate whether it was a penalty or not. For me it's a witch hunt that we see and not an objective judgement of a case.

"This charge implies there was intent and a desire to cheat the referee. Having watched the pictures again there was nothing conclusive.

"It singles out a player in Europe to be a cheat and that is not acceptable. UEFA has taken action that is not defendable."

Wenger claims Eduardo was jumping out of Boruc's way because of the career-threatening broken leg he sustained two seasons ago.

He said: "It's funny in football because you can break the legs of players and it doesn't make a debate for anybody. But this case has been all over the world and Eduardo has been treated like he's killed someone.

"I'm the first to say that it doesn't look like a penalty but it's another thing to say that he went down with intent. I wish good luck in proving that having seen the pictures again.

"Having seen his leg after that tackle I don't blame him for getting out of the way of the goalkeeper.

"There is completely lack of logic in this case. Why? Because people have reacted emotionally.

"This case has been ruled by the media and emotionally by Scotland, by the Scottish FA and by Scottish people working at UEFA who think this case is a bit more sensitive because they have more influence there.

"I've fought my whole life against cheating and I've seen some obvious cases where UEFA didn't intervene. On and off the pitch things have happened where no action was taken.

"But now the existing rules of football have been changed just for one case so we will from now on challenge every single decision that is made in Europe by the referees.

"This is the first time since I've been in football that the judgement made by the referee is not accepted by the football bodies.

"They've opened the door to every single decision made by a referee can now be challenged. They've opened a very dangerous door."

Celtic boss Tony Mowbray refused to condemn Eduardo and hinted that the Arsenal star was paying the price for UEFA's desire to clampdown on cheats.

"I have seen the incident again but it doesn't matter, we are out of the Champions League," Mowbray said.

"The bigger picture is UEFA want to clamp down on simulation, to make a mark and if they feel they need to do it, then so be it.

"Sometimes there has to be a fall guy. But it is not my decision, I don't want to condemn anybody."

UEFA president Michel Platini is keen to bring in extra officials, who would be stationed behind the goal, to provide an additional opinion in contentious situations.

But Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson called for video evidence to be brought in to avoid any similiar controversy in the future.

Ferguson, who was at Arsenal to see Eduardo's dive, said: "For the last decade there has just been talk. Nothing has been done. The time is now.

"Michel Platini has his own views about bringing in extra human assistance with additional referees and assistants but most people in the game think technology should be used.

"Whatever the debate it should lead to something more positive in terms of helping referees in situations like Wednesday night.

"There is no question that the speed of the game means technology or additional assistance should be used."