Football around the world: A tale of a Romanian referee and a Portuguese hotelier

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The Independent Online
Portugal

Aberdeen and their former manager, Alex Ferguson, have unwittingly been linked this week with a bribery scandal which has been causing a stir in the Portuguese papers.

Portuguese police have questioned a businessman over his allegations that he sought to bribe a Romanian referee on behalf of FC Porto 12 years ago, prior to a European Cup-Winners' Cup semi-final against the Dons when the Manchester United manager was in charge at Pittodrie.

Fernando Barata, a hotel owner and the former chairman of another Portuguese club, Farense, has claimed that he had been asked by Porto to speak to the referee before the first leg. He said he had been asked to fix a 3- 0 victory for Porto, but has not said how much money was offered. Porto won both the home and away legs 1-0.

Porto have fiercely denied the allegations but Uefa, European football's governing body, has sought an explanation from the Portuguese Football Association. The referee, Ioan Igna, also claimed ignorance of the bribery claims.

"I'm totally surprised about these allegations," Igna said in Bucharest yesterday. "I don't know this person who is making accusations. I've never spoken to him." He said Porto had provided all three Romanian officials for the match with air tickets, accommodation and food. "They gave me a watch, a little flag and a badge for presents. Nothing else.

"This is a war of words within the Portuguese media. It has nothing to do with me. I remember Porto were even angry at me after the match for not awarding a penalty."

The Portuguese players' union has called for an immediate investigation into the allegations, which, it claimed, were "threatening the image and credibility" of Portuguese football.

Brazil

There is, it seems, never a peaceful weekend in the Brazilian championship. A goalkeeper beaten up by fans following a league match last Sunday underwent surgery on Tuesday. Ricardo Pinto,of the league leaders Atletico Paranaense, needed a three-hour operation after a small clot developed on his brain.

Pinto was injured following his team's 3-2 win away to the bottom club, Fluminense, in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. He suffered concussion and needed stitches in a head wound after dozens of Fluminense fans scaled the fences around the pitch after the final whistle. Some attacked Pinto, who lashed out before being knocked to the ground. He was carried to the dressing- room by Atletico officials.

A Fluminense official said Pinto was to blame for the incident. "He provoked the fans. There is not a fence in the world that could contain an enraged multitude."

The previous weekend, there was chaos at the Maracana stadium when directors from both clubs interrupted a league game between Vasco da Gama and Botafogo to protest at refereeing decisions.

Play was delayed for more than 20 minutes when Eurico Miranda, a Vasco director and a member of the Brazilian Congress, ran on to the pitch to complain about the goal which gave Botafogo a 1-0 lead. Vasco scored twice following the interruption but, after their second goal, the president of Botafogo, Carlos Alberto Montenegro, followed Miranda's example and rushed on to remonstrate with the referee.

Miranda also threatened police who tried to usher him off the pitch - by warning them that he enjoyed parliamentary immunity.

Vietnam

A Vietnamese international, Chu Van Mui, has been banned for life for leading an attack on the referee at the country's cup final last month.

Mui's team assaulted the official after they had been beaten 3-1 by a provincial side, Dong Thap, in the televised cup final. The referee was kicked and punched and chased round the stadium. Mui was judged to have led the charge by his team - Ho Chi Minh City Police.

The ban was not the end of Mui's problems - he has also been demoted a rank in the national constabulary.

Rupert Metcalf

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