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Sep 15, 2009

Eduardo wins appeal over Champions League ban

Arsenal striker Eduardo has won his appeal over a two-match ban for diving during the Champions League play-off win over Celtic.

The Croatia international was accused of duping the referee into awarding the penalty which gave Arsenal the opening goal of the game at the Emirates on August 26.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was furious with UEFA's decision to ban the player from their opening two group games away to Standard Liege and playing host to Olympiakos. He claimed there had been a media "witch hunt" against his player to make sure action was taken.

Wenger has now been vindicated by UEFA's decision to over-turn the decision.

A statement on UEFA's website read: "The UEFA Appeals body today accepted the appeal lodged by Arsenal FC against the two-match suspension handed to striker Eduardo.

"Following examination of all the evidence, notably the declarations of both the referee and the referees' assessor, as well as the various video footage, it was not established to the panel's satisfaction that the referee had been deceived in taking his decision on the penalty.

"Therefore, the decision of the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body of 1 September, in which the player was suspended for two UEFA club competition matches, is annulled.''

Eduardo said: "I certainly feel relieved now. I have had great support from my family, friends and of course everyone at the club. Now I just want to forget about this and think about our match against Standard Liege on Wednesday. I was always prepared for the match in Belgium because I had good feeling and I always remained positive about the outcome.

"Now we have a final result, I can now look forward to helping the team on Wednesday night.

"All I remember of the incident is that as soon as I had possession of the ball I headed towards goal at full speed. I was very close to the Celtic keeper and felt contact on my foot and then lost my balance. I know perhaps more than anyone else that when you have contact at speed it can be dangerous.

"I just want to say that I'm a fair player. To score goals you must take your opportunities and I'm not the type of player who needs to be dishonest to score goals.''

A statement on Arsenal's website said: "We are grateful that the appeal body focused on the evidence and made the right decision in this case. We were able to show that there was contact between the goalkeeper and Eduardo and that the decision of the UEFA disciplinary body should be annulled.

"We fully support the drive for fair play in football and believe it is important that UEFA provide clear and comprehensive standards that will be consistently enforced going forward. We are glad to put this incident behind us and concentrate on the games ahead.''

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