PORTUGAL defender Paulo Ferreira believes his former club Porto have the necessary people to fight against their exclusion from the 2008/09 Champions League.
The Portuguese champions were yesterday excluded from Europe’s premier club competition next season following a bribery scandal which overshadowed their recent SuperLiga conquest.
They were also hit with a six-point deduction for the scandal in which they were found guilty of trying to bribe referees during the 2003/04 campaign.
The club announced they would appeal against the exclusion and Ferreira, who now plays with Chelsea, hopes they are successful.
“I have a lot of affection for Porto,” he said: “FC Porto have the people to sort these problems out.”
Ferreira, who played for Porto in the 2003/04 season under Jose Mourinho, added that the Porto players and other members of the Portugal squad would not let the news affect their preparations for Euro 2008.
“Now I’m together with the national squad as we’re only three days from the start of Euro 2008,” he continued. Portugal has a great image and we have to put these types of things to one side.”
Earlier yesterday UEFA’s director of communications William Gaillard said Porto had three days to lodge their appeal, after which time a different Portuguese club would enter the Champions League.
“FC Porto may appeal against this decision and they have three days in which to do so officially,” he said. “If all roads of appeal are unsuccessful this means that other Portuguese teams will be able to take their place.”
Benfica stand to benefit should Porto’s exclusion stand, having finished fourth in the SuperLiga.
AC Milan were initially banned from the 2006/07 Champions League following the Italian match-fixing scandal but were successful in their appeal and went on to participate in — and win — the European title.
Porto have triumphed in Europe’s premier club competition twice, in 2004 and 1987, and reached the last 16 last season before being knocked out by Schalke on penalties.
Last month, Porto were found guilty by the Portuguese league of fixing two league matches in 2003/04. The club was fined €150,000, docked six points, the club’s president Jorge Pinto da Costa was suspended for two years and opponents Boavista were relegated to the second division for their part in match-fixing.
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