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By ESPN Staff
Sep 21, 2007

Lithuania to appeal player's UEFA diving ban

VILNIUS, Sept 21 (Reutes) - Lithuania's soccer federation will appeal UEFA's decision to issue a two-match ban to midfielder Saulius Mikoliunas for diving.

Mikoliunas, who won a controversial penalty during his country's 3-1 defeat away to Scotland on Sept. 8, became the first to fall foul of new UEFA regulations aimed at punishing incidents of cheating missed by referees.

UEFA's disciplinary body said on Thursday that Mikoliunas, who plays for Hearts in Scotland's Premier League, had been found guilty of deceiving the referee.

But Lithuanian soccer federation president Liutauras Varanavicius told Reuters he disagreed with the decision.

'This is an unfair decision towards a Lithuanian player, and the punishment is not appropriate,' he said on Friday.

'We are going to appeal aginst the decision.'

The new UEFA regulations set down an automatic two-match ban for players who act 'with the obvious intent to cause any match official to make an incorrect decision'.

Mikoliunas will miss Lithuania's next two Euro 2008 qualifiers, away against France on Oct. 17 and at home against Ukraine on Nov. 17.

Varanavicius said UEFA should also punish Scottish forward Garry O'Connor for 'faking a foul by Lithuanian defender Tomas Zvirgzdauskas, who received a yellow card in the same match'.

Lithuania's soccer federation introduced a rule a month ago that referees could replay the match video as a means to prevent players from diving, Varanavicius added.