Porto chief up on referee bribery charges

March 25, 2008

LISBON, March 25 (Reuters) - Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa will stand trial for allegedly bribing a referee before a Portuguese Premier League match in 2004.

The referee, Augusto Duarte, who was in charge of the match between Beira Mar and Porto that year which ended in a goalless draw, will also stand trial for corruption, the source said.

Pinto da Costa's lawyer declined to comment while Duarte was not immediately available to comment.

The decision, by a criminal court in Portugal's northern city of Porto, follows an investigation branded "Apito Dourado" (golden whistle) which began in 2003 and involves several soccer directors and referees, according to media reports.

The Lusa news agency quoted Portugal's public prosecutor's office saying Pinto da Costa was suspected of giving an envelope containing 2,500 euros ($3,895) to Duarte before the match.

No date has been set for the trial, Lusa said.

The trial follows publication of a book by an ex-girlfriend of the president of Premier League leaders Porto, which alleged the team had often benefited from bribes paid to referees.