Wenger: Eduardo witch hunt is a complete disgrace

LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused UEFA on Friday of mounting a "witch hunt" against his striker Eduardo da Silva and said the "disgraceful" decision to open a disciplinary case against him set a dangerous precedent.

UEFA said on Friday it was opening disciplinary proceedings against Eduardo for "deceiving the referee" after the Brazilian-born Croatian international won a penalty in Arsenal's Champions League playoff victory over Celtic.

"I find it a complete disgrace," Wenger said at a news conference when asked about the UEFA charge.

"There is nothing conclusive (in the pictures). It singles out a player in Europe to be a cheat and that is not acceptable."

He added: "For me it's a witch hunt. It is not an objective judgement of the case. Eduardo was touched by the goalkeeper and we can prove that."

Eduardo went down in the Celtic game after poking the ball past goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who dived at his feet but appeared to make little or no contact with the striker. Arsenal won the match 3-1 to go through 5-1 on aggregate.


Eduardo spent a year out of the game after suffering a badly broken leg in February 2008 and Wenger drew a comparison between the gravity of that incident and the current case.

"It is funny in football because you can break the legs of players and it doesn't make a debate for anybody but this case has been all over the world and is being treated like Eduardo has killed somebody," Wenger said.

Wenger was particularly angered by what he saw as the decision to open the case even though the referee had ruled on the incident during the match. That, he said, set a precedent allowing for every decision to be challenged.

"The existing rules of football have been changed just for this case, so from now on, we will challenge every single decision, I tell you, that is made in Europe by the referees," Wenger said.

"This is the first time I have been in football that the judgement of the referee has not been accepted... So they have opened a door that a decision seen by the referee and assessed by the referee can be challenged. They have opened a very dangerous door there."