Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Portugal: Champions League No Go for Porto

The sins of FC Porto's 2004 European Cup wining side came back to haunt the team today as the Portugese champs were booted from next seasons Champions League. Last month, Porto were found guilty by their domestic league of bribing refs during two league games in 2003-04. The six points the squad were docked did not effect their position in the standings, so they did not appeal.

But they will appeal the decision handed down by UEFA today, which excludes them from a competition they have won on two occasions. Porto were already slotted into the group stages.  That position will now go to third-place finisher Vitória de Guimarães, who will be joined by second-place Sporting Lisbon.  For one of the top teams from Europe's second tier of domestic leagues the financial blow of missing out on European competition next season will be significant.

Porto now hope their appeal will earn the same treatment as the one AC Milan submitted two years ago. In that case, the Rossoneri had been penalized by the Italian league for their involvement in a domestic match fixing scandal. Initially banned from the Champions League, AC Milan not only gained re-entry, but won the tournament.

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