Former newspaper editor and reality television judge Piers Morgan has hit out at Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's stance over the Eduardo diving affair, slamming the Frenchman's decision to jump to the striker's defence.
The Croatian international was recently handed a two match ban by UEFA after being adjudged to have deceived the referee by diving to win a penalty in Arsenal’s Champions League play-off against Celtic at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger, who insisted the evidence was inconclusive, reacted angrily to the sanctions, claiming a witch-hunt had taken place against his front-man, adding that the decision was setting a dangerous precedent for future cases of simulation.
However, Arsenal fan Morgan - a judge on Britain's Got Talent and former editor of the Daily Mirror and News of the World - says it is pointless arguing Eduardo's case, as it was obvious that the Brazilian-born forward dived.
“Wenger has always struck me as a thoroughly decent, principled and honest man,” he said in the Daily Mail.
“He does not betray his players in public, so can be prone to misdemeanor myopia from time to time. But I have never had him down as someone who would tolerate cheating.
“Which is why I find his public rage at Eduardo's two-match ban so surprising. I have watched the clip from every angle numerous times now and it is quite clear Eduardo went down like a sack of spuds when the keeper never touched him - and he did so with the obvious intention of conning the referee into awarding a penalty.
“I don't buy Wenger's suggestion that it is 'inconclusive' or that Eduardo may have been trying to avoid another injury.
“What he did, Arsene, is cheating. Pure and simple.
“Cheating is unfair, period. So please do not keep defending the indefensible Arsene because, well, it is indefensible.”
Morgan points to the influence money has had on the modern game, and how a ‘win whatever it takes’ mentality has replaced gamesmanship which previously had a self-regulating impact on cheating in the game.
“The reality of modern sport is that as more and more money has piled in, so the amount of unacceptable gamesmanship and downright corruption has accelerated. Almost every sport is infested with this poison of some sort,” he said.
“With the disastrous consequence being that young people are hard-pressed not to conclude that the only way to win at sport is to bend the rules.
“This has to stop. And the only way I see the situation changing is if sport's governing bodies do what seems to be happening now and clamp down so heavily on cheats that it deters others from even thinking about it.”
While Morgan disagrees with Wenger’s opinion, he does have some sympathy with Arsenal being the first side to be penalised for diving, particularly after the questionable penalty Wayne Rooney won against Wenger’s side in their recent defeat at Old Trafford.
“If that means the likes of Eduardo get hammered 'unfairly', then so be it,” he said.
“Obviously, I would prefer if it was Saint Wayne 'I never cheat' Rooney, whose fall against Arsenal to win United's penalty last week was just as suspicious.”comments