Porto banned from Champions League next season

Uefa has banned Porto from next season’s Champions League because of alleged bribery of referees in the 2003-04 (yes, Mourinho’s season).

The decision comes after the lengthy “Golden Whistle” investigation into alleged attempts to illegally influence the outcome of two Portuguese league matches.

The affair in Portugal, which came to light in April 2004, also resulted in five referees being suspended for periods between two-and-a-half and six years.

The referees were found guilty of accepting the offer of prostitutes after matches, while in one case an official received 2,500 Euros prior to a match.

The allegations relate to Porto’s 2-0 win against Estrela da Amadora and their 0-0 draw with Beira Mar.

As a result Porto were fined 150,000 Euros and docked six points, but they decided not to appeal against that decision on the grounds the club had a substantial lead in the league.

The punishment did not affect final standings as Porto still won last season’s title for the third time in a row, 14 points ahead of Sporting Lisbon.

In a statement released on its website, Uefa referred to the new regulation, Article 1.04 (d) of the 2008-09 Champions League regulations, which states that “to be eligible to take part in the competition a club must, among other things, not be or have been involved in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level.

Porto have vowed to try to overturn the decision through Uefa’s appeals body, but gave no further details.

Uefa director of communications William Gaillard told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We have taken this decision because a Portuguese court has actually sentenced FC Porto and its president.

“The president has appealed against the decision but the club itself has not appealed and therefore this is a sentence that stands and under our statutes, we felt obliged to ban them from next year’s Champions League.

“I don’t think it will affect Porto’s status as champions of Europe in 2004, this is not something that has come up in the recent debates that we had among our legal experts.

“Porto can appeal within three days of receiving the motivations of the sentence, if it lost that appeal of course we would then replace Porto with the runners-up.”

[Sources: BBC and Guardian]

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