Chelsea boss Conte defends 'honest' Victor Moses despite FA Cup final dive
LONDON -- Antonio Conte defended Victor Moses as "an honest player" who would not try to cheat a referee after the Nigeria international was shown a second yellow card for diving in Chelsea's 2-1 defeat against Arsenal in Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley.
Moses was sent off in the 68th minute by referee Anthony Taylor for falling to the floor under no contact in the Arsenal penalty area, having been booked earlier in the second half for a foul on Danny Welbeck.
Chelsea's 10-men still managed to equalise when Diego Costa cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's controversial early opener on 76 minutes, but Aaron Ramsey's header quickly secured Arsenal's record 13th FA Cup triumph.
Moses left the Wembley pitch on the verge of tears and though he admitted he had not seen a replay of the incident after the match, Conte spoke up for the integrity of his wing-back.
"Honestly I didn't see the situation," Conte insisted. "I don't know but for sure you must think that there is a lot of tension in those moments and sometimes you could be tired. I don't think that if my player dived, he did it with a real intention to do this [deceive].
"We are at the end of the season and many players are tired and there is a lot of pressure. For sure, it's not a good situation to dive. But I repeat, Moses is an honest player and if it is [a dive], I don't think he wanted to [cheat] the referee."
Earlier this month the Football Association introduced new sanctions for "successful deception of a match official" ahead of next season that will see players found guilty of diving to win a penalty or get an opponent sent off handed a retrospective two-match suspension.
Asked if he would accept such a punishment for Moses if a similar incident occurred next season, Conte replied: "If there are these rules you must accept them. Otherwise why put them in football?"
Arsenal's victory shattered Conte's hopes of winning a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season in England, and the Italian stressed the need for Chelsea to invest significantly this summer in order to maintain the standard of a campaign in which he believes they were "very lucky" with injuries.
"We reached a fantastic target, an incredible target, with players that performed at 120 percent, every single one of them," Conte added. "We didn't have injuries this season. Our work was very good, but also very lucky. We have to analyse very well the season.
"Next season will be another tough one for all the teams, but don't forget that this season we didn't have a squad like [Manchester] United, like [Manchester] City. Now it's important to understand this and find the right solution. This season we were champions and we want to start next season like champions."
Moses wed his long-term partner the day on Sunday.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.