Porto given all-clear to play in Champions League

July 15, 2008

LAUSANNE, July 15 (Champions League) - Porto will play in the Champions League this coming season after an appeal by Benfica and Guimaraes against their reinstatement was dismissed.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport delivered the verdict on Tuesday morning after considering evidence submitted by Porto, Benfica and Guimaraes.

UEFA had initially banned Porto from the Champions League in May after they were convicted of attempting to bribe referees in the domestic Super Liga during the 2003-04 season.

That decision was then overturned on appeal as a UEFA committee concluded that the investigation in Portugal was not yet complete, leading Benfica and Guimaraes to appeal.

Porto won the Super Liga last season - despite being docked six points in the scandal - to earn automatic entry into the Champions League.

If they had been denied access, Guimaraes stood to take an automatic spot as the third-placed club, while Benfica, who finished fourth, would have been entered at the qualifying stage.

Tuesday's decision means that Benfica will have to be content with a UEFA Cup place.

'The appeals filed on 26 June 2008 by Sport Lisboa e Benfica Futebol SAD and Vitoria Sport Clube against the decision issued on 13 June 2008 by the UEFA Appeals Body are dismissed,' the CAS statement said.

UEFA rules state that a club entering the Champions League 'must not be or have been involved in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level'.

However, UEFA said the decision on whether to submit Porto's name for entry was a decision for the Portuguese League (LPFP) following an investigation of the club's activities.

LPFP in May chose to submit Porto's name, ruling that the matter had been dealt with by the points deduction.

In their announcement, CAS said the full award with the grounds will be published at a later date.

Hearings were held on Monday and deliberation continued into the early hours on Tuesday.

CAS said the costs of the case must be borne in equal shares by Benfica, Guimaraes and UEFA.