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September 16, 2009

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Eduardo set to start as UEFA revokes 2-match ban for diving

ARSENAL striker Eduardo da Silva's two-match Champions League ban for diving was overturned on 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 August 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.

Eduardo is now clear to play in Arsenal's opening group stage Champions League match at Standard Liege today and the home match against Olympiakos on September 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 on September 1 that Eduardo dived 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."

The incident provoked a media storm after the Scottish Football Association 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. "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."


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