Brazil tribunal keeps Fluminense in 1st division
Fluminense will remain in the Brazilian league despite being
relegated on the field, Brazil’s sports tribunal ruled on
The tribunal unanimously rejected an appeal by Portuguesa, which
lost four points for using a suspended player in the last
Without the points, Portuguesa dropped below Fluminense in the
20-team standings and has to replace the traditional Rio de Janeiro
club in the second division next year.
A four-time national champion, Fluminense became the first
defending champ to be relegated in the Brazilian league. But it was
saved by a technicality.
The ordeal, however, further embarrassed football in Brazil,
which has recently made headlines for fan violence and the deaths
of workers at World Cup stadiums.
Portuguesa’s suspended player, reserve midfielder Heverton, was
on the field for about 15 minutes.
”Portuguesa made a mistake,” tribunal member Decio Neuhaus
said. ”We need to apply the rules.”
Portuguesa finished with 48 points and advanced to play in next
year’s Copa Sudamericana, but with Friday’s ruling if fell to 44
points, two behind Fluminense.
The club said it was still considering whether to take the case
outside the sports tribunals.
”The tournament isn’t over yet,” Portuguesa President Manuel
da Lupa said. ”We did our part on the field. It’s absurd what is
happening to Portuguesa.”
The tribunal session was broadcast by nearly all sports channels
in Brazil and dozens of fans were cheering outside the courtroom in
Rio de Janeiro.
Portuguesa said it was mistakenly advised by one of its lawyers
that Heverton was suspended for one match instead of two matches.
It also said the suspension shouldn’t have taken effect immediately
because the player’s trial was too close to the final round.
The club also claimed the document announcing the punishment was
officially published only on Monday, a day after the match. The
tribunal said Portuguesa knew of the decision right away because it
was represented at the player’s hearing.
It is not the first time Fluminense has benefited from an
off-the-field ruling to avoid relegation. The club was demoted for
the first time in 1996 but remained in the top flight because of
supposed refereeing irregularities at the time. Fluminense was
relegated again in 1997 and then dropped to the third flight the
following year, but a change in the competition’s format allowed
the club to move straight back into the first division in 2000.
Portuguesa, whose biggest achievement was a runner-up finish in
the 1996 Brazilian league, last played in the second division in
The tribunal also upheld Flamengo’s four-point loss because of
an alleged irregular use of left back Andre Santos in the league’s
final round, dropping the popular club from 11th to 16th in the
standings, just outside relegation zone with 45 points.
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