Fluminense could avoid relegation

Fluminense may avoid relegation in the Brazilian league because

another team allegedly used a suspended player in the competition’s

final round.

Brazil’s sports tribunal on Wednesday will analyze a complaint

that Portuguesa breached rules, which could cost the team four

points and allow Fluminense to stay in the first division.

Fluminense ended the tournament as the first team inside the

relegation zone, but would surpass Portuguesa in the 20-team

standings if the points are docked.

Fluminense won its last match on Sunday but that was not enough

to avoid becoming the first defending Brazilian champion to be

demoted to the second division. Four-time Brazilian champion Vasco

da Gama also was relegated, but it would not benefit from

Portuguesa’s punishment.

The Brazilian football federation said Portuguesa should not

have used midfielder Heverton in the match against Gremio on

Sunday. The player had been suspended for two matches, but

apparently Portuguesa was mistakenly advised by one of its lawyers

that it was a one-game suspension.

Portuguesa vice president Roberto dos Santos admitted to local

media on Tuesday that the lawyer might have mistakenly given the

club the wrong information.

”We are on the first flight to Rio to request a copy of the

trial’s tape from the Brazilian federation to find out what really

happened,” he said.

It would not be the first time Fluminense benefited from an

off-the-field ruling to avoid relegation. The Rio de Janeiro club

was relegated for the first time in 1997 and then dropped to the

third flight the following year, but a change in the competition’s

format at the time allowed Fluminense to move straight into the

first division in 2000.

The tribunal also said Brazilian Cup champion Flamengo may also

lose points because of an alleged irregular use of left back Andre

Santos. That could drop the country’s most popular club to the

first spot outside of relegation zone. That punishment could be

significant because Vasco da Gama is trying to annul its 5-1 loss

against Atletico Paranaense. The referee stopped the game after 73

minutes due to fan violence.

The tribunal has said it is unlikely the result will be

overturned but if it is, Vasco will have enough points to avoid

relegation and that could send Flamengo down.