UEFA Has Made Their Bed and Now Must Lie In It

Joe GSenior Writer ISeptember 3, 2009

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Eduardo of Arsenal scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League 2nd qualifying round 2nd leg match between Arsenal and Celtic at the Emirates Stadium on August 26, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Eduardo Rules are now in full effect.

In handing down a two-match European ban to Arsenal striker Eduardo, UEFA have created the standard by which all future diving must be judged.

There can no longer be a gray area. If you dive to earn an advantage for your club, then prepare to take a mandatory vacation to reflect on your sins.

I spoke out about this situation earlier in the week, and I'm still struggling to come to terms with what I see as nothing more than a one-off witch hunt by UEFA.

There are legitimately serious doubts about UEFA's ability to choose a course of action and stick with it. Remember the "Respect" campaign? You can still witness players in every match lining up to launch some nasty tirade at an official who has made an unfavorable decision.

Michael Ballack was hit with a laughably short ban after his childish antics in last year's Champions League.

Players still feel comfortable treating officials poorly because they have no fear of serious repercussions. I worry the same will happen with their latest actions against diving.

Arsene Wenger was right when he said that UEFA were opening a Pandora's box with this decision. Ugly stuff could be on the horizon, with big, nasty, pointy teeth.

UEFA have set the precedent, and now they must abide by it or they will likely be hit with accusations of bias and discrimination. It certainly doesn't help matters when Eduardo is not British, and fans for years have witnessed British divers not only avoid consequences, but be treated as heroes by the media.

What happens in the future when UEFA neglects to punish somebody who dives to earn a penalty?

In today's game, it's certainly not a matter of "if," but '"when." If said player doesn't receive an equal punishment, could that be considered legitimate grounds for legal action?

In the lawsuit-happy land of America, UEFA would have aggrieved Arsenal fans beating down their doors with pitchforks and torches. Given the passion that this whole incident has aroused in football fans, it's not that far-fetched.

We all agree that something should be done to stamp out diving, but this isn't the greatest course of action. Plenty of UEFA's campaigns over the years end up like a cheap, shiny toy given to a young child on Christmas—it holds their attention for a short period of time before it's discarded and starts gathering dust in a closet.

Players are still disrespecting referees and you can still hear racist chants in the stands at many stadia across Europe. I don't think this latest crusade against diving will end up any differently.

Sure, we might see a drop in infractions for now, but as soon as a few players start diving successfully without punishment, it will be right back in the game.

A better solution must be offered, and it's such common sense that we really shouldn't be surprised that it hasn't yet been implemented.

Get better referees. Now.

Better officials on the pitch would go a long way toward placating angry fans and players alike. Replace Tom Hennig Ovrebo with a competent human being, and the ugly incidents of incompetent officiating would not have marred that match.

Replace Jorge Larrionda with a man who knows the laws of the game, and U.S. fans would not have felt so miserable after their match against Italy in 2006.

There's no need to deeply examine Mike Riley and the long list of complaints that travels with him.

Fixing the referees seems to be a more proactive manner of attacking the problem. If UEFA can start hiring and training officials that will actually discipline diving on the pitch, during a match, it will save us all from complaining when inevitably, a player on our own team is sent to the stands for a couple of matches.


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