Football: Juninho's assailant escapes ban

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The Independent Online
Spain

THE Spanish League's Appeals Committee overturned a four-match ban on Thursday which had been given to the Celta Vigo defender Michel Salgado after an incident in which the former Middlesbrough player, Juninho, broke his leg.

The Committee quashed the suspension given to Salgado on Monday. Earlier this month, Salgado escaped without even a booking after hacking down the Brazilian during Celta's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.

Some 6,000 Celta fans had taken to the streets of Vigo to protest against the ban on Tuesday, while players from all over had expressed their disagreement with the ban. Many reporters felt that Salgado would not have been sanctioned at all if Juninho had not been such a high-profile player.

Juninho, who returned to Brazil on Wednesday, looks likely to miss the rest of the Spanish season and the World Cup finals in France in June. He had voiced his support for the ban given to his assailant and will be horrified to learn that it has been overturned.

"It should serve as an example," Juninho had said. "It should always be like that. If not, football becomes a joke."

Brazil

One of the forwards who is in contention to replace the injured Juninho in Brazil's World Cup squad, Edmundo, has carried out his threat to walk out on Fiorentina if the Italian Serie A club did not guarantee him a first-team place, and has flown home to Rio de Janeiro.

The colourful striker arrived from the Brazilian club Vasco da Gama early last month after completing the league season with Vasco, for whom he scored a record 28 goals but also received seven red cards.

"If I don't play for Fiorentina, then I'm going back to Brazil," Edmundo said before he headed home. "This year there are the World Cup finals and I don't want to put them at risk. Italy is fine, Florence is a wonderful city and Italian football is exactly what I expected - but I was promised that I would play."

After a long absence from the Brazilian team for disciplinary reasons, Edmundo was recalled for the Gold Cup in the United States this month. Shortly after arriving back home on Thursday, he was spotted at the Salgueiro samba school, one of Rio's most popular carnival clubs.

Russia

Russia's national team, absent from the World Cup finals for the first time in 20 years, will get no more wages unless they qualify for the next European Championship in the year 2000, their coach, Boris Ignatiev, said this week.

"The players don't know anything about it yet," he said. "There's likely to be a difficult discussion." Both France and Russia's neighbours, Ukraine, stand between Ignatiev's team and a place at Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Gazprom, the massive Russian gas monopoly, withdrew its lucrative sponsorship of the national team last year after a series of poor results.

Nigeria

Nigeria, banned from the African Nations' Cup in Burkina Faso, meet Jamaica in a friendly in Kingston tomorrow. The Olympic champions have recalled a striker who was one of their main men at USA '94: Rashidi Yekini, now with FC Zurich. He has not played for Nigeria for two years.

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