I have long argued that Uefa and Fifa should take retrospective action if a player gains an advantage for his side by way of simulation. Or cheating as it should be called.
But the two game ban on Eduardo for diving is just plain wrong. The Arsenal striker was found guilty of deceiving Manuel Enrique Mejuto GonzÄ‚Ë‡lez, the referee, by going to ground under a challenge from Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc in last week’s 3-1 win in the Champions league play-off round tie.
Despite Arsenal submitting a lengthy document defending him backed up with video evidence which they claim shows that there was contact between the two players, Uefa were obviously unimpressed, reaching their decision in a mere 53 minutes.
So, what are the ramifications here? Sadly, I think Europe’s governing body has made a rod for its own back.
Eduardo, Uefa’s public enemy number one
First off, Eduardo has been banned after Uefa found him guilty of ‘deceiving the referee’. This term was first introduced by Uefa in 2006. And how many players, Eduardo apart, do you think have been charged with this offence and found guilty since then? Answer: none. That’s right, in every game throughout Europe over the last 3 years, Uefa would have us believe that not a single player has tried to dupe the ref.
Arsenal will surely appeal and you’d think they would be able to put together a pretty good case. A trawl through the tapes of last weeks games in La Liga, Serie A or the EPL and they’ll surely find dozens of examples of players doing just what Eduardo did. Not diving necessarily, but trying to put one over the match officials. In other words, Arsenal will claim that they are being victimized.
Moreover, where do you draw the line? If a player appeals for a corner when he knows full well it’s a goal kick, isn’t this the same crime? Or perhaps when a player throws his hands up in all innocence when he knows he’s committed a foul? And, while we are on it, why hasn’t the entire Bristol City team been charged with the same offence after the Crystal Palace ‘ghost goal’ from a few weeks back. They all knew that Freddy Sears had scored but by not acknowledging the fact, they were guilty of deceit on the grandest scale of all.
Indeed, what is to stop any team from looking at films of future opponents, finding a clear case of deception and sending it off to Uefa with a request that the player or players be banned?
What’s even worse is Uefa and Fifa’s refusal to use retrospective video evidence to reprieve players who have been wrongly booked or red carded. How many more players will have to miss big games before the authorities sort that out? Just ask Laurent Blanc who was banned from the 1998 World Cup final after some play-acting from Slaven Bilic got the Frenchman sent off in the semi’s. Or Darren Fletcher who was forced to watch Manchester United’s Champions League final from the side lines after being wrongly dismissed in his semi final. The list goes on and on and Uefa will get themselves in an all mighty pickle if they insist on only looking at one side of the ‘retrospective video evidence’ argument.
Darren Fletcher trains before the CL final although he had no chance of playing
I should say that this isn’t a piece in support of Eduardo. He dived. He simulated. He cheated. Mind you, if the referee had picked that up, he’d only have received a booking. Now he’s got a 2 match ban. How can that be seen as fair?
What would be infinitely more shaming for the player is if Uefa forced Arsenal to show a TV replay of the incident on their giant screen every time Eduardo goes on to the pitch for the next 2 months. The opposing fans would lap it up and after a few weeks of that, you kind of get the impression that Eduardo would think twice before trying the same trick again. And a good job too.