Arsenal to fight back in row over Eduardo
Club prepares dossier to challenge controversial Uefa ruling over 'diving' incident
The disciplinary case by Uefa against Eduardo da Silva has been so shambolic that Arsenal fear the rules are being made up on the hoof by the governing body which will today decide the fate of the player for his dive against Celtic in the Champions League last Wednesday.
The full picture of Uefa's ad hoc case emerged yesterday when The Independent learnt that the evidence offered up by Uefa against Eduardo amounted to one paragraph in a two-and-half-page fax in which the organisation accuses him of an "obvious dive". Uefa did not send any accompanying video evidence to Arsenal.
Arsenal's lawyers have sent Uefa a 19-page submission and supporting videos of the incident between the Brazilian and Artur Boruc to be considered by Uefa's control and disciplinary body in Nyon, Switzerland, today which will decide whether he faces a two-match Champions League ban.
The club were shocked at the fax they received from Uefa – which was sent to the wrong part of the club – on Friday by the Uefa delegate Gerhard Kapl. There was no extra evidence from the Spanish referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez, who has since stood by his decision to award the penalty.
The Uefa evidence against Eduardo was so brief and lacking in detail that the club are convinced the charge was only drawn up on Friday after the Uefa president, Michel Platini, was asked about the incident by journalists attending the Champions League draw in Monaco.
Arsenal have accused Uefa of bringing the charge against Eduardo on video evidence despite not engaging in what the club's lawyers said was "forensic analysis" of the incident to support their case. Arsenal's submission will also say that Uefa made "fundamental errors" that were "completely wrong in regard to the position of the ball [during the incident]." They have also accused them of failing to speak to individuals to gather evidence.
There was no direct evidence from Uefa to demonstrate that Eduardo intended to deceive the referee. In their submission Arsenal said the video evidence – which they sought out from ITV – shows "there is a deviation in the right ankle of his [Eduardo's] right foot [as he falls]. This supports his contention there was contact from the goalkeeper and the committee is encouraged to review this footage."
The Arsenal submission in Eduardo's defence also points out that the player was entitled to take evasive action – especially given his horrific leg break and ankle dislocation against Birmingham City in February 2008. "Professional footballers are taught to raise their feet to avoid injury," Arsenal said to Uefa. "Even if a player acts successfully to avoid contact this is not cheating."
Arsenal also point out that Uefa has charged just one other player – Lithuania international Saulius Mikoliunas in 2007 – since the rule was introduced in 2006. Arsenal's submission reads: "It is arbitrary and unreasonable to single him [Eduardo] out in this way."
Eduardo is facing a two-match ban under a regulation which states that players "acting with obvious intent to cause any match official to make an incorrect decision" can be banned. At the hearing, Arsenal will attempt to show that, among other things, Uefa's charge is illegal under its own rules. Article 20 (1) states: "Decisions made by the referee on the field of play are final and may not be reviewed by Uefa's disciplinary bodies."
It has also emerged that Uefa did not respond to Arsenal's request for the hearing to be delayed until yesterday – when it was too late. Having been told only on Friday that Eduardo had been charged and his case would be heard today, Arsenal had immediately asked for an extension.
By the time Uefa responded to grant Arsenal's request, the club had taken the decision to complete their submission, working on the assumption that they had been turned down.
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