Fluminense could avoid relegation

Fluminense could avoid relegation

Published Dec. 11, 2013 12:00 a.m. ET

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.