Eduardo's 2-match ban for diving overturned
Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva's two-match Champions League ban for diving was overturned Monday by UEFA.
An independent appeals panel for European football's governing body upheld an appeal that was presented in person by Eduardo and Arsenal's lawyers.
Eduardo said the decision made him feel better after having been subjected to media scrutiny and verbal abuse from opposing fans since the Aug. 26 incident in a match against Celtic.
"I'm very pleased that we have finally arrived at the truth. All we needed to do was to prove what happened and we have managed to do that," he said in a statement released by the London club.
UEFA said it looked at video evidence and considered the opinions of its match officials — Spanish referee Manuel Enrique Mejuto and his assessor, Johann Hantschk from Austria — before siding with the Croatia forward.
"It was not established to the panel's satisfaction that the referee had been deceived in taking his decision on the penalty," UEFA said in a statement.
Striker says he's ready to play
Eduardo is now clear to play in Arsenal's opening group stage match at Standard Liege on Wednesday and the home match against Olympiakos on Sept. 29.
"I was always prepared for the match in Belgium because I had good feeling and I always remained positive about the outcome," he said.
UEFA's disciplinary panel ruled Sept. 1 that Eduardo took a dive when winning a penalty in a qualifying match against Celtic. He fell after a challenge from goalkeeper Artur Boruc and then scored from the penalty spot.
"All I remember of the incident is that as soon as I had possession of the ball I headed towards goal at full speed," Eduardo said. "I was very close to the Celtic 'keeper and felt contact on my foot and then lost my balance. I'm not the type of player who needs to be dishonest to score goals."
Arsenal went on to win the second-leg match 3-1, advancing 5-1 on aggregate.
The incident provoked a media storm after the Scottish Football Association, representing Celtic, urged UEFA to study video evidence.
Arsenal said then that the disciplinary panel had delivered a "deeply flawed" ruling after failing to review the pictures thoroughly.
"We are grateful that the appeals body focused on the evidence and made the right decision in this case," the club said Monday. "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."
Arsenal also argued that Eduardo, who broke his leg in February 2008, took evasive action to avoid a repeat of the serious injury that had sidelined him for a year.
"I know perhaps more than anyone else that when you have contact at speed it can be dangerous," Eduardo said.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger described UEFA's pursuit of his player as a "witch hunt," while England fans targeted him for verbal abuse during a World Cup qualifier against Croatia last week.
Eduardo was booed every time he touched the ball in Croatia's 5-1 defeat at Wembley, and was denied what appeared to be a legitimate penalty claim. He later scored Croatia's consolation goal.