Rooney denies diving accusation

Wayne Rooney has rounded on anyone trying to drag him into the on-going diving debate by declaring: "I am an honest player."

Amid the furore that accompanied the two-match ban Eduardo has received for "deceiving the referee" during Arsenal's victory over Celtic last week, Rooney's conduct at Old Trafford was questioned at the weekend.

Most former professionals have argued the penalty Rooney earned against Arsenal was perfectly fair because Manuel Almunia put his arms in front of the Manchester United striker before he went down.

However, TV replays showed that Rooney appeared to be heading for the turf before the Arsenal keeper made contact and that the spot-kick should not have been given.

The allegation he cheated is something the 23-year-old strongly rejects.

"Everyone who watches me play knows I am an honest player," he said.

"I play the game as honestly as I can.

"If the referee gives a penalty there is nothing you can do. It is a penalty.

"If they want to take punishment further it is down to UEFA and the people who run the game. As players you just want to play."

Arsenal intend to appeal against Eduardo's punishment, with Arsene Wenger particularly aggrieved because he believes the Croatian was touched by Celtic's Artur Boruc.

There have certainly been far worse instances this week alone, Emmanuel Eboue being a prime example.

However, Rooney does not believe the problem is any worse now than it has been in the past.

"Diving has been in the game for years," he said.

"Probably the coverage the game gets now, with all the cameras around, it gets highlighted a bit more.

"But it hasn't got any worse."

Certainly, Rooney can see a problem if the authorities try to clamp down on the diving issue as Wenger has demanded.

And, rather than rely on TV evidence, the Merseysider feels the referee is the best person to deal with such issues, even if there are instances when he might get it wrong.

"It is difficult to prove," he said.

"You see some that should not have been penalties but get given and others that are clear and do not.

"The decisions are down to the referee. It is a difficult job but they do the best they can."

Rooney does feel players have a role to play as well.

Although traditionalists bemoan diving as a continental disease, there are plenty of instances when British players have bent the rules to gain an advantage.

But the United man feels players who dive are not just cheating the opposition, they are duping the paying public as well.

"England has always had a good record of being honest," he said.

"It is important you try and play honestly.

"You don't like to see anyone cheating. It is not fair on the fans or the opponents."

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