From the home of Mourinho, Ronaldo and Xavier
The Portuguese League has always enjoyed its share of controversy: corruption suspicions, never-ending accusations of biased refereeing and puzzling decision-making by its governing bodies.
This season had been mildly quiet with just a few complaints regarding the number of questionable penalties awarded to Benfica.
However, it all fell apart like a house of cards after Sporting defeated minnows Mafra in a 4-3 thriller.
I mean, when a Chinese player is the man of the match by scoring a hat-trick you just know something isn’t quite right.
After the match, Sá Pinto - now the former sporting director of the Lions – tried the hairdryer treatment and blasted goalkeeper Rui Patrício for his incredible blunder in Mafra’s second goal.
Liédson defended his team-mate and Pinto confronted him to demand respect.
But the naturalised Brazilian striker didn’t back down and Pinto, perhaps remembering the day he went psycho on then-national coach Artur Jorge, punched him.
The news broke the following morning and in the afternoon Sá Pinto resigned to avoid an escalation of the problem.
Still, a mere two months since he assumed the position at the club, it is fair to assume that his future as a football director is already over.
Meanwhile, the ongoing saga involving incidents at Estádio da Luz in the match between Porto and Benfica has now reached a whole new level.
As the facts slowly come to light, reports seem to indicate that while both Hulk and Sapunaru assaulted some stewards in the tunnel, it also says that those same stewards provoked the Porto players.
Assuming the reports are reliable and not skewed by external factors, it would only be fair that both parties get punished, but curiously that’s where the major problem lies.
While the players may eventually get six-month suspensions, Benfica are just as responsible for ensuring the order and discipline at the stadium but can get away with a fine.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that both clubs are stoking the fire and playing the blame game.
A final decision needs to be reached before February 23, but in the meantime the two players can’t give their contribution to the team.
Big, big thumbs down to the whole process.
Wait, amigos, because there’s more.
Somehow Pinto da Costa’s wiretaps related to the “Golden Whistle” operation were leaked to YouTube.
There, you can hear the Porto supremo talking to several people – including Deco, former League president Valentim Loureiro and former president of the referees’ board Pinto de Sousa.
Most of the phone calls are simply uncensored but regular interactions between people who work in the same industry, but there is one exception; one phone call more than hints that prostitutes were offered to a referee.
Which naturally brings out the question: Are there more off-field shenanigans that people should be aware of?
If that wasn’t enough, it was also reported that football agent Jorge Teixeira, on behalf of SC Braga, approached three Leixões players with a €50,000 incentive should the team manage to get a result against Benfica.
That’s not corruption per se, but it’s punishable by fine under the rules of the league.
How embarrassing is this? The Portuguese League may have finally stolen the headlines this past week, but unfortunately it wasn’t for the right reasons.
The Portugeezer can’t help but shake his head at these sad developments as it seems that once again a big dark cloud is looming over our heads.
Will Hermínio Loureiro – current league president – do something to stop the bleeding or will he remain a passive onlooker?
Stay tuned because next week will likely bring juicy developments...
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