Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has called the decision by European football’s governing body UEFA to charge striker Eduardo with diving against Celtic a "complete disgrace" and accused them of staging a "witch-hunt" against the player.
Wenger, speaking in his press conference on the eve of his side’s English Premier League clash with Manchester United, also warned that UEFA have “opened a very dangerous door” after they began disciplinary proceedings against the 26-year-old Croatia international. “I find it a complete disgrace and unacceptable. We won’t accept the way we have been treated in this case for two reasons,” Wenger said. “I believe that you can debate whether it was a penalty or not. For me it’s a witch-hunt that we see and not an objective judgment of a case. “This charge implies there was intent and a desire to cheat the referee. Having watched the pictures again there was nothing conclusive. “It singles out a player in Europe to be a cheat and that is not acceptable. UEFA has taken action that is not defendable.”
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Spanish referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez awarded Arsenal the penalty in the 26th minute of the Champions League play-off second leg against the Scottish Premier League side at the Emirates Stadium. Television replays appeared to suggest that there had been minimal contact between Eduardo and Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc, and the Arsenal striker went on to convert the spot-kick to help Arsenal progress to the group stages with a 3-1 victory. Wenger went on to say the decision will have long-term implications with regards to questioning future decisions by match officials. “This is the first time since I’ve been in football that the judgment made by the referee is not accepted by the football bodies. “Usually a situation that has been assessed and judged by the referee can’t be touched again. “They’ve opened the door to every single decision made by a referee can now on be challenged. They’ve opened a very dangerous door there.” The 59-year-old manager, who has been in charge of Arsenal since 1996, added that he would be defending his player because he felt the reaction had been blown out of proportion. “It’s funny in football because you can break the legs of players and it doesn’t make a debate for anybody,” he said. “But this case has been all over the world and Eduardo has been treated like he’s killed someone. I’m quite happy that this penalty would have had no outcome on the game. Eduardo has been touched by the goalkeeper and we can prove that.” Wenger continued: “There is completely lack of logic in this case. Why Because people have reacted emotionally. “I’ve fought my whole life against cheating and I’ve seen some obvious cases where UEFA didn’t intervene. On and off the pitch things have happened where no action was taken. “But now the existing rules of football have been changed just for one case so we will from now on challenge every single decision that is made in Europe by the referees.