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By ESPN Staff

FA defend appointment of "Man Utd fan" Riley

The Football Association have backed Mike Riley as 'one of the best referees in the world' after Everton boss David Moyes questioned his appointment for Sunday's FA Cup semi-final.

Moyes raised the suggestion that Riley is a fan of Manchester United, Everton's opponents at Wembley.

An FA spokesman said today in a statement: ``Steve Bennett was originally chosen for Sunday's FA Cup semi-final. When he suffered an injury last week Mike Riley, who was due to be the fourth official for Saturday's FA Cup tie, was chosen as his replacement.

``Mike is one of the most highly respected referees in this country and around the world and has handled matches at the highest level. His integrity is without question.

``During Mike's 13 years as a Premier League referee he has officiated in more than 300 matches and has refereed both Everton and Manchester United on numerous occasions both home and away.

``Mike has the full support of the Football Association and we have absolute faith in both his integrity and ability to referee such an important fixture.''

Moyes has frequently not seen eye to eye with Riley and said on the club's official website: ``A member of the press asked me if Mike Riley is a Manchester United supporter - I think that is something you would need to bring up with the FA.

``It is something that one or two managers would have something to say about. It is the FA's appointment; it was originally supposed to be Steve Bennett.

``If you (the press) are saying that Mike Riley is a Manchester United supporter, you would hope the FA would look at that.''

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