The Portuguese League has kicked Boavista to the second division and punished Porto with a six points deduction because of their involvement in soccer corruption during the 2003/04 season.

Porto officials have been found guilty of having attempted to bribe referees in two League games, but the six minus points will not greatly upset the team, who lead Sporting by 20 points with a game to go. In the meantime Porto’s president Qq Online Jorge Pinto da Costa was handed a two year suspension.

Boavista of Oporto were punished by outright relegation for bribing referees on three occasions during the same season. The former club chairman Joao Loureiro was suspended for four years and fined 25,000 euros.

Five referees were found guilty of receiving bribes and were suspended for periods between two and a half and five years.

José Mourinho’s name was not mentioned in the procedure, although he was Porto’s coach in that season, culminating with a Champions League triumph.


Why did Domenech support Liverpool?


Chelsea’s win over Liverpool in the Champions League semis angered the French national team coach Raymond Domenech because of the alleged damage it will cause to France.

It is not that Domenech has anything against Chelsea. His preference was due to the fact that Liverpool have no French internationals, while the Londoners have three. Just like Manchester United.

This means that six French players will be engaged with their teams until May 21th, when they are scheduled to meet in the final in Moscow.

Evra, Saha and Silvestre will be in action for Manchester, while Anelka, Malouda and Makelele will be there for Chelsea.

Another inconvenient detail for Domenech is the French Cup final, featuring Lyon and Paris SG, who provide 12 players to the national team. Dramatically, the FA Cup final will take place only on May 24th, which will leave Domenech little time to prepare the team for the European Championship.


Return of the King: Eriksson in Benfica for the third time


He may be somewhat despised in England, but in Portugal he is the boss. Sven-Gőran Eriksson reached an agreement with Benfica to take over the team for the third time in his coaching career. The first two times he was sensationally successful, as he won League titles and took the Eagles to European finals on both occasions.

Former Benfica stopper Carlos Moser is said to have been designated by Eriksson as the assistant coach. Eriksson himself will make a reported 2.2 million euros per year, a sizeable cut compared to the 4 million he earned at Manchester City.

The 60-year is one of the most successful active coaches, having won the UEFA Cup with Göteborg, a Cup Winners’ Cup with Lazio and plenty of other national trophies with Benfica, Roma and Sampdoria.

England’s fans did not appreciate the three consecutive quarterfinals at major tournaments during Eriksson’s tenure, but then came Steve McClaren and a sense of nostalgia for the good old days with Sven.



Fans mad at Flamengo’s historic shame


América of Mexico City achieved the seemingly impossible by overturning a 2-4 home defeat against mighty Brazilian Flamengo.

In the return game at Maracaná, América scored an amazing

3-0 win, which set the scene for a series of incidents carried out by the local fans.

Some of them engaged private guards in and around the stadium, others devastated property, and still others pelted the Flamengo team bus with stones.

The coach Caio Junior, who took charge after the Copa Libertadores round of 16 tie was surrounded by local hooligans and threatened as if he had had anything to to with Flamengo’s elimination.

“This is Flamengo, you are going to have to win the championship now,”

shouted the angry fans.

In the history of international club cups only once had a team come back from a 2-4 home defeat. The distinction was owned by the French side Metz, who overturned such a defeat against Barcelona by winning 4-1 at Camp Nou.



Real Madrid rally behind Raúl


Raúl González has to play at the European Championship. This is the unanimous opinion of Spanish fans and media alike. Raúl’s teammates in Real have all spoken in his support. The only opposition seems to come from the only person that really matters: a stubborn, bigoted coach Luís Aragonés, who for reasons beyond rational analysis refuses to call on Spain’s most capped player.


Real players have rallied behind their captain, calling for Aragonés to change his position on the best Spanish forward in the domestic game.

“We will try to help him improve his goal tally in the remaining two rounds,” said a member of the team that retained the title last week with a win at Osasuna.


Ironically, two years ago, after his least convincing season, Raúl was called up for the World Cup in Germany, while the current sensational campaign does not seem to perturb Aragonés.

With two matches to go in La Primera, Raúl has scored 17 goals in 35 games, out of a total of 45 shots. He has also distinguished himself in defensive tasks, having won 57 balls.

In 2005/06 his records were by far inferior, with a meagre five goals in the League in a mediocre Madrid season. That seemed to please the coach more than the current brilliant display by the still only 30-year-old striker.


At the moment, his international record stands at 102 games and 44 goals, both of which constitute the highest figures in Spanish soccer.



Steaua’s incentive did not work


CFR Cluj have won their first Romanian championship amid controversy involving Steaua’s attempt to pay a substantial incentive to CFR’s last matchday rivals, Universitatea Cluj.

The team from Transylvania clinched the title by defeating local rivals Universitatea 1-0, making Steaua’s 5-0 drubbing of Gloria Buzau irrelevant.

This is the first time since 1991 that the title has gone outside of Bucharest to the provinces.

On the eve of the decisive match, police in Cluj arrested five men carrying a bag containing 1.4 million euros, presumably intended for the Universitatea players.

The money is suspected of belonging to Steaua’s flamboyant boss Gigi Becali, who promised it to Universitatea in case they drew or won against CFR.

Becali cynically commented that his associates must have been to Cluj in order to buy some property.

The law does not treat the incentives to win as bribes, but other charges could be brought related to illegal monetary transactions.




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