“UEFA’s whole process has been reduced to a farce and, while Eduardo has been pardoned by European football’s governing body, fans are unlikely to be as forgiving” – John Cross

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Following examination of all the evidence, notably the declarations of both the referee and the referees’ assessor, as well as the various video footage it was not established to the panel’s satisfaction that the referee had been deceived in taking his decision on the penalty. Therefore, the decision of the Uefa control and disciplinary body of 1 September, in which the player was suspended for two Uefa club competition matches, is annulled.” – a statement by UEFA.

Runner-up: “Ferguson wanted me to play with long studs, the interchangeable ones that suit wet pitches, but I feel more comfortable in short ones. I agreed to change but I didn’t and, against Chelsea, I slipped in front of goal and wasted a chance. Afterwards, I rushed to the dressing room to change boots but Ferguson caught me. He grabbed the boots and threw them. That was my last game for United.” – Diego Forlan.


Today’s overview: Feckless. Spineless. And weak. The “what the hell?!” breaking news this Tuesday is that UEFA have dramatically overturned Eduardo da Silva’s two match ban for diving against Celtic.

Sam Wallace investigates how Arsenal and Eduardo won the appeal. “The prosecution case put together by Uefa was shambolic and lacking in detail, and Arsenal’s lawyers duly took it apart at the hearing in Switzerland, which was attended by Eduardo in person… It is understood that when Arsenal received the full charge from Uefa there were serious shortcomings in its evidence. Under its own rules, Uefa had to prove that it was Eduardo’s intention to con the Spanish referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez, a charge that, it is understood, it never got close to proving. Uefa also failed to send any video evidence in support of its claim.”

Jamie Jackson surveys the damage of the UEFA ruling, barking “the U-turn will be widely regarded as a blow to attempts to crack down on diving.” Matt Hughes also worries about the precedent set by UEFA. “UEFA will feel embarrassed by the affair, which has further muddied the already confused area of anti-diving regulations, and it is likely to be a long time before it charges another high-profile player in a similar manner. The episode will also be seized upon by those opposed to the greater use of video technology, including Michel Platini, the Uefa president, as evidence that cameras are often unable to provide definitive answers.”

Dumbfounded, John Cross argues that no-one will buy the UEFA about-turn. “Will it really leave the footballing public and fans up and down the country believing that Eduardo did not take a tumble after all? In fact, people have been queuing up in the meantime to condemn Eduardo as a diver… UEFA have been left to make an embarrassing climb down after appearing to take such a strong stance against diving which every right minded fan should want banned from the game. But now UEFA’s whole process has been reduced to a farce and, while Eduardo has been pardoned by European football’s governing body, fans are unlikely to be as forgiving.”

Bring on the Champions League, where the fourth estate gang together to ratchet up the pressure on the Pensioners.

Ahead of the Blues’ start against Porto, Kevin McCarra makes that case that the time is now for Chelsea to win Europe’s grand prize. “Chelsea and its present squad are running out of time. Regeneration by cheque book no longer seems to be available… It is a personal imperative for men like Lampard to succeed now. They would surely see a gap in their career if this particular medal is lacking from the collection.”

Jason Burt is similarly bullish over the time being right for Chelsea to go all the way, commenting on coach Carlo Ancelotti that “the Italian offers much to Chelsea. This is his domain. European football sustained him at Milan for eight years when he captured only one Scudetto.” And just in case Ancelotti had any misgivings of the pressure on his shoulders, Mark Fleming stressed that “Ancelotti arrived at Chelsea in the summer charged by the owner, Roman Abramovich, with the minor task of delivering the coveted Champions League crown for the first time in the club’s history.”

Slipped into Daniel Taylor’s preview of Manchester United’s trip to Besitkas in the Champions League, is that news that “Park Ji-sung has agreed a contract extension that will keep him at Manchester United until 2012.”

Ahead of the mouth-watering Inter Milan-Barcelona match-up on Wednesday, Gabriele Marcotti investigates Zlatan’s move from Italy to Catalunia. “Guardiola knows that integrating a player with Ibrahimovic’s skill-set into a finely tuned machine such as Barcelona’s will take time, if only because at Inter the whole team was built around him. At Barcelona, on the other hand, he needs to share the limelight and be a humble participant in the weekly magic show of Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández. In deciding to axe Eto’o for Ibrahimovic, Guardiola took a sizeable gamble. Conventional wisdom dictates that you don’t tinker with a successful side. But then the payoff could be huge.”

Two important changes to football with potentially far reaching consequences were agreed on Monday – player quotas and new financial regulations for avoiding administration.

On the player quotas, Owen Gibson speculates over the impact that new rules limited squads to 25 players including 8 “home-grown” players. “[The rules] will force some to slim down their squads in the face of accusations they are “stockpiling” talent… Liverpool will be among the worst-hit clubs. According to their website, they have 56 registered professionals with 23 battling for 17 spots for non-home-grown players within the squad under the new rules.”

On the new financial regulations Sam Wallace delivers the bottom line. “All clubs will have to submit detailed accounts to the league’s executive by 1 March in order to prove they are solvent.” Following on, Premier League clubs have accepted a rule change that will see them subjected to greater financial regulation with immediate effect, leaving Liverpool, Portsmouth and West Ham United under pressure to satisfy their auditors if they are to avoid intervention… new regulation that will allow the league to “step in” and, in extreme cases, impose a transfer embargo if it believes a club are in danger of falling into administration.”

Looking at both initiatives together, Both measures testify to a convergence with Fifa and Uefa that can only help in reaching a workable consensus on the issues identified by Michel Platini… One was the interests of young players. The other was ‘financial fair play.'”

Not ones to let a scandal quietly fizzle out, the papers clamour for new news surround Emmanuel Adebayor.

Adebayor has asked the club to send a shirt along with a note expressing his regret [to the steward who was injured], as a measure of his sympathy.”

Fuming over the Togolese original statement that “I don’t know what I’ve done to be banned,” James Lawton calls for the FA to get tough with Adebayor. “[The FA should] consider the ban they first had in mind – four weeks is the consensus – and then double it, at least… He didn’t so much bring football into disrepute as something close to dangerous anarchy.”

Never afraid to go out on his own, Martin Samuel bucks the trend and defends Adebayor’s goal celebration. “He ran the length of the field and slid on his knees in front of them, arms spread wide in triumph. Oh dear. Boo hoo! How terrible that must have been. Adebayor did not curse, he did not spit, he certainly did not launch the missile that split open the head of a steward. He did not wade into the crowd and start throwing right-handers. Just came to rest with a smug look on his face that milked every last moment of his part in Manchester City’s victory, and revelled in Arsenal’s miserable journey home. In the circumstances, it was hardly the greatest outrage.”

Former-Gunner Ian Wright then rocks the boat by turning on the Arsenal supporters too. “I think many supporters these days – particularly at Arsenal – are a bit corporate. This means they are less tolerant towards players and are far quicker to dish the dirt and this is not acceptable, either. Had Adebayor, 25, not slid on his knees in front of the fans, he would not have got any less stick.”

As standard, the Guardian roll out their European round up this Tuesday.

On Serie A, Paolo Bandini focus attention on how CLaudio Ranieri is settling in at Roma, Sid Lowe tells the story of how the Atletico Madrid owner’s call for ‘peace and tolerance’ has backfired spectacularly as fans revolt at the Vicente Calderon, while Raphael Honigstein observes how Bayern’s Franck Ribery and manager Lious van Gaal appear to have turned a corner in their relationship.

Suffering from transfer diarrhea, the Daily Mail poop the news that “Chelsea have agreed in principle to sign Croatian goalkeeper Matej Delac. The transfer ban imposed on the Blues would mean they cannot bring him in from Inter Zapresic until January 2011.” Elsewhere, Neil McLeman reports that “Bareclona have claimed only the transfer inflation caused by Real Madrid’s mad spending spree stopped them buying Javier Mascherano and Cesc Fabregas this summer,” and lastly James Nursey links Aston Villa’s Marlon Harewood with Newcastle.