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Sep 4, 2009

Fergie: UEFA right to punish Arsenal star Eduardo

Sir Alex Ferguson has thrown his weight behind UEFA's decision to punish Eduardo with a two-match ban for 'deceiving the referee', with the Manchester United manager claiming the governing body's stance will send a strong anti-diving message to the football community.

Arsenal striker Eduardo has been at the centre of a sizeable controversy after he was suspended following an apparent dive to win a penalty during Arsenal's recent Champions League victory over Celtic at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners have pledged to appeal against the decision and Arsene Wenger has mounted a strong defence of his player. However, the Frenchman's great rival feels UEFA were correct to punish the Croatia striker.

"Quite rightly something should be done. You hope that message gets across," said Ferguson. "Not one coach is proud of the fact that they have players who simulate to get decisions.

"Coaches can't be proud if they have won the game that way. I certainly wouldn't be. We all agreed that education is the best way forward, from youth teams through to first team players.

"We all have a responsibility, particularly the players of today, on how it impacts on young people."

However, Wales coach John Toshack has placed himself firmly on the opposite side of the debate by claiming that UEFA's decision is "very, very dangerous for everyone". The former Real Madrid manager also feels pressure from the Scottish community played a part in the punishment.

"I am a big fan of Arsene Wenger's and he is always worth listening to," said Toshack. "I agree 100% with him over the Eduardo incident. It came at the end of a terrific move, and don't forget he had been the victim of a bad injury and a bad tackle 18 months ago and he is only just back from his injury.

"He can see the Celtic goalkeeper flying out at him and I felt the lad was protecting himself. There is a difference between diving and getting out of the way of what could have been a nasty collision.

"You still can't see clearly there was no contact from the replays. Trouble seems to follow that referee around. I know him from Spain, (Manuel Enrique) Mejuto Gonzalez, and he is very highly rated within UEFA. It will be interesting to see whether UEFA take any action against him, because he should have sent off the keeper and didn't, if he felt it was a penalty.

"I also feel there is some Scottish influence on this one, and UEFA have made a knee-jerk reaction and it is a very dangerous precedent.

"If the referee thought it was a penalty, gave it, and didn't send off the keeper. I thought that was the rule. And for all their complaining, Celtic had one of their own players disciplined for diving a few days later.

"The same thing happened when Arsenal lost at Manchester United soon after, Wayne Rooney got a penalty and the Arsenal keeper wasn't sent-off. If referees feel it is deliberate, goalkeepers should get a red card. This sort of knee-jerk reaction from UEFA is very, very dangerous for everyone.''

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