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September 5, 2009

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Fergie backs UEFA on diving

MANCHESTER United coach Alex Ferguson said yesterday that UEFA was right to suspend Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva for two matches after he deceived the referee to win a penalty in a Champions League match.

The Manchester United coach said diving was "not acceptable," and UEFA had to send a strong disciplinary message because it was such a high profile competition.

"Quite rightly something should be done. You hope that message gets across," Ferguson said at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, after a two-day gathering of coaches from Europe's top clubs.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger also attended the forum where the diving controversy was a hot topic.

Wenger said he was still "surprised" at UEFA's decision to use video evidence and suspend Eduardo over the incident in its victory over Celtic last week.

"We have decided to appeal so it's better that we don't talk too much," Wenger said. "It is difficult to know why the decision has been made but we can only challenge it."

The Gunners have until the middle of next week to lodge its appeal with UEFA, and a hearing is expected before Wenger's team begins its Champions League group stage program on September 16 away to Standard Liege.

Ferguson also offered his support to Wenger, saying he was right to publicly defend Eduardo, while not condoning the Croatia international's perceived dive.

"I would not have been pleased if it was my player that did that," Ferguson said. "I wouldn't say it publicly but I wouldn't be pleased.

"When you make a public criticism of your players you are in danger of losing the morale of the dressing room. Your job is to protect the dressing room and keep it solid. You become insular and protective of your own players in your team. We're all selfish that way."

Ferguson said the gathering of coaches, including Real Madrid's Manuel Pellegrini, Ciro Ferrara of Juventus and Laurent Blanc of Bordeaux, agreed on the diving issue.

"Not one coach is proud of the fact that they have players who simulate to get decisions. Coaches can't be proud if they have won the game that way. I certainly wouldn't be," he said.

"We all agreed that education is the best way forward, from youth teams through to first team players. We all have a responsibility, particularly the players of today, on how it impacts on young people," he added.



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