general news - 2009



António Conceição (Toni) was officially presented on Wednesday as coach of Belenenses, replacing João Carlos Pereira, who was was sacked at the weekend. Toni was previously at Romanian club Cluj, with whom he won a Cup and a Supercup and who he qualified for the Europa League; he had a contract with them until 2011.

Vitória de Guimarães have extended coach Paulo Sérgio's contract until the end of the 2011 season.

Sporting striker Liedson has undergone surgery on his left knee and will be out of action for around a month.

Former Portuguese international utility player Abel Xavier has hung up his boots after 20 years as a professional. He made the announcement from the United Arab Emirates and revealed at the same time that he has converted to Islam; he is set to change his name to Faisal.


Cristiano Ronaldo was not FIFA World Player of the Year this time around but came in second behind Lionel Messi. He was also in the FIFA top 11 and scored the goal of the year.


João Carlos Pereira has been sacked by Belenenses after the team lost to União de Leiria on Sunday. He had joined the club at the beginning of the season on a two-year contract. Belenenses have won just one game from 14 and are currently second from bottom in the Liga.


Former Portuguese international Vítor Paneira has taken over from Jorge Madureira as coach of Boavista. Champions in 2001, Boavista have slid down the Portuguese league and are now second from bottom of the Segunda Divisão (third tier).


Serbian coach Predrag Jokanovic will take over from Manuel Machado at Nacional until the end of the season; Machado has recently been in hospital recovering from an operation. Jokanovic was coach at the Madeiran club in the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons. José Augusto, who was in charge of the team for the last few games, returns to his role as assitant coach.


Cristiano Ronaldo is on the short list along with Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Kaká for the FIFA World Player of the Year, the award won by Cristiano Ronaldo last year.


Nacional coach Manuel Machado has come out of the coma that was induced last Monday after a hernia/liposuction operation went wrong.


Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Alves of FC Porto are among the 55 players in line to be voted the best in Europe. The voting will be done by visitors of the UEFA official site.



Nacional's coach Manuel Machado is in an induced coma in intensive care in a Madeira hospital after undergoing an operation for a hernia on Tuesday; he subsequently contracted an infection. He is reported to be in a serious but stable condition. He was replaced on the bench on Saturday by assistant José Augusto, who also takes the team to Bremen for their Europa League tie this week.


Carlos Carvalhal, 43, is the new coach of Sporting, taking over from Paulo Bento. His contract is until the end of the season, with one more as optional. Carvalhal has been served a number of clubs in his coaching career: Sporting Espinho, Freamunde, Desportivo das Aves, Leixões, Vitória de Setúbal, Belenenses, Sporting Braga, Beira-Mar, Asteras Tripolis (Greece) and Marítimo. He was sacked from Marítimo earlier in the season after a poor start.

Portuguese coach António Conceição ('Toni') has been sacked by Romanian club Cluj with the team at the top of the league table. His contract was to run until 2011. Toni won a Cup and Supercup with Cluj. Italian Andrea Morlini takes over.


Former Benfica goalkeeper Robert Enke, 32, was killed on Tuesday by a train at a level crossing in Hannover, Germany. Friend and agent Jorg Neblung said that it had been a case of suicide. Enke had recently recovered from an intestinal infection that had kept him out of the Hannover team. In 2006 he lost his daughter Lara, 2, who suffered from heart problems. In 2008, he and his wife adopted a young girl of two months, Leila.

Robert Enke was at Benfica between 1999 and 2002 and was well respected there. He made his début on 22 August 1999 under compatriot Jupp Heynckes in a 1-1 draw with Rio Ave. His time at the Luz coincided with a lean spell for the club: third place in his first season, sixth in 2000/01 and fourth in 2001/02. He played 93 times for Benfica, his last game a 0-2 defeat to União de Leiria on 2 March 2002.


Paulo Bento resigned as coach of Sporting on Friday. He had been in the job for four years and 15 days (signed 23 October 2005), the second longest-serving coach in the history of the club after Joseph Szabo (346 games). Under him, the team played 194 official games, winning 117, drawing 46 and losing 31.

High points in his time at the club were two Taças de Portugal and two Portuguese Supertaças won. The low point was perhaps the 1-7 defeat at Bayern Munich in the Champions League last season, and the aggregate score of 1-12 in the same tie.

This season, Sporting started poorly in the Liga and are currently 7th, the worst start for 15 years. In Europe, they did not qualify for the Group Stage of the Champions League but are doing well in the Europa Cup (three wins and one draw in the group stage), although the home draw (1-1) with Ventspils on Thursday, followed once again by white handkerchiefs and whistles from the crowd, was effectively the catalyst for Bento's resignation.

Assistant coach Leonel Pontes will take over coaching duties until a permanent replacement is found.

FC Porto SAD, the commercial arm of the club, was the only one among the Big Three to post a profit (5.54 million euros) for the last financial year (until June 2008), although its profits fell by 13.3 %. Benfica posted a loss of 34.86 million euros, while Sporting's loss was 13.35 million.

FC Porto SAD's payroll costs were up 21.7% to 44.15 million euros. Benfica's went up 36.4 % to 37.13 million euros. Sporting's rose by 19.5 % to 23.73 million euros.



Thursday was Lito's first day as coach of União de Leiria, taking over from Manuel Fenrandes, who moved to Vitória de Setúbal. Lito's previous club, Liga de Honra (second tier) side Portimonense of the Algarve, have sent a complaint to the Liga, claiming poaching by União and breach of contract by the coach. In turn, Lito's story is that he terminated his contract with just cause as he had salary payments that were overdue. Luís Carvalha (nicknamed 'Litos') takes over at Portimonense.


Manuel Fernandes has terminated his contract as coach with União de Leiria and joined Vitória de Setúbal on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

Meanwhile, Lito Vidigal has moved from Liga de Honra top team Portimonense to União de Leiria on a contract that will take him through to the summer of 2011.


Cristiano Ronaldo is once again a candidate for France Football's Player of the Year, along with 29 others, among them favourite Lionel Messi of Barcelona.


Ulisses Morais has been confirmed as Paços de Ferreira's new coach, at least until the end of the season, taking over from Paulo Sérgio, who has moved to Vitória de Guimarães to replace Nelo Vingada. Morais was at Naval before getting sacked recently.

Meanwhile, Vítor Pontes, who last season coached Portimonense of the second tier, looks set to join Vitória de Setúbal.


Paulo Sérgio has left Paços de Ferreira to coach Vitória de Guimarães, who have recently sacked Nelo Vingada. The new coach has a contract until the end of the season.

Académica, who recently fired coach Rogério Gonçalves, have signed André Villas Boas to take his place, initially until June 2011. Villas Boas has been an assistant to José Mourinho , most notably at FC Porto and Chelsea.


Mitchell Van der Gaag has been confirmed as full time coach of Marítimo, taking over from Carlos Carvalhal. Until now, the Dutchman has been looking after both the first team and the 'B' team, which he was in charge of up until Carvalhal's sacking. He will be the only foreigner coaching in the top flight at the moment.



Coach Carlos Carvalhal has been sacked by Marítimo. The Madeiran side are 11th in the table with one victory, two draws and three defeats. Dutchman Mitchell Van der Gaag will double up as coach of the 'B' side and the first team, at least for the time being.


Quim has taken over as coach of Vitória de Setúbal from Carlos Azenha, sacked last week.


The Administrative Court of Lisbon has ruled that the telephone taps used in the so-called Golden Whistle corruption process are illegal. The same recordings were used as a basis for the disciplinary action brought by the Liga's Disciplinary Committee against União de Leiria's president João Bartolomeu (banned for one year and fined 4,000 euros), and FC Porto (points docked) and their president Pinto da Costa (suspension and fine), and Boavista (relegated to the Liga de Honra). Bartolomeu is reportedly set to sue the Liga's Disciplinary Committee and the Football Federation's Council of Justice for a total of 50 million euros.


Augusto Inácio, who won a title with Sporting in 2000, is the new coach of Naval, taking over from Ulisses Morais, sacked recently.



Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, the institution that runs the pools and various lotteries in Portugal, has filed an injunction to suspend the contracts that 11 Liga clubs have with the Internet gambling company BetClick. Nacional, Académica, Sporting de Braga, Vitória de Guimarães, Naval, Rio Ave, Paços de Ferreira, Olhanense and União de Leiria have all signed publicity contracts with BetClick for the coming season.


FC Porto won the SuperTaça Cândido de Oliveira on Sunday, beating Paços de Ferreira 2-0 in front of just 15,722 at the Aveiro Municipal Stadium (capacity 30,000). It was a tight but scrappy game, with Porto having most possession but Paços getting near the goal on several occasions, notably via their best forward, Cristiano. It took a terrible mistake by Paços 'keeper Cássio to break the deadlock on the hour: he took a back-pass and instead of clearing tried to dribble round Farías, got caught up, and the Argentinian striker stole the ball and slotted it home. Paços were still in it, however, until a minute from time when a corner from the left by Raul Meireles was met by captain Bruno Alves, jumping high above everyone else to crash in a header at the back post.

F.C. Porto: Helton, Fucile, Rolando, Bruno Alves, Álvaro Pereira, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Guarín 90), Belluschi (Farias 46), Mariano, Hulk, Varela (Tomás Costa 74).

Paços de Ferreira: Cássio, Filipe Anunciação (Carlitos 64), Ricardo, Ozeia (J. Coelho 82), Kelly, Jorginho, Leonel Olímpio, Pedrinha (William 68), Baiano, Romeu Torres, Cristiano.

At the end of the game, Porto's 'keeper Hélton ran to Cássio to commiserate with him: "He came up to me when the game finished," said Cássio, "and gave me his jersey. I thought that he wanted to swap, but he told me to keep my own, too ... so that in the future I would remember and every time I looked at it I would know that I'd been one of the best players on the pitch that night."

The SuperTaça is played at the beginning of every season between the winner of the Liga and of the Taça de Portugal . As Porto won both last season, they had to play against the losing finalists of the Taça: Paços.


The Council of Justice of the FPF (Portuguese Football Federation) has rejected the appeals of Vizela and Gondomar, relegated to the second division (third tier) in the Golden Whistle/ Final Whistle process. Carregado and Penafiel have takaen their places in the Liga de Honra (second tier).

Portsmouth players David Nugent and Marc Wilson were involved in a scrap at the club's hotel in Guimarães after losing 4-0 to Benfica at the weekend. The players were sent home and docked two weeks' wages.


Nine top tier clubs (Académica, Olhanense, Nacional, , Sporting Braga, Vitória de Guimarães, Naval, Rio Ave, Paços de Ferreira and União de Leiria) will be sponsored by London-based on-line betting site Betclic. The company is in negotiations to secure contracts with four other clubs. Betclic's logo will appear on the sleeves of the teams' shirts.

Real Madrid have insured Cristiano Ronaldo's legs for 100 million euros.


The Portuguese Football Federation has announced the five stadiums that will be used in the Portugal/Spain bid for the 2018 World Cup: Porto (Dragão), Lisbon (Luz and Alvalade), Braga and Algarve. The last two will need to be enlarged from their current 30,000 capacity to be in line with FIFA demands: 44,000. From the ten stadiums built or re-modelled for Euro 2004, Guimarães, Bessa (Boavista), Aveiro (Beira-Mar), Coimbra (Académica) and Leiria will be left out.

Spain has a reported 23 stadiums in mind, from which will be chosen five, six or seven to be included in the Iberian bid.


English coach Bobby Robson has died, aged 76. He was well-known and liked in Portugal for his service to Sporting and FC Porto.

He arrived at Sporting in 1992 and was sacked in December 1994 by the then president of the club Sousa Cintra after the team were knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Casino Salzburg; Sporting were top of the Portuguese league at the time. His assistant/translator at Sporting was one José Mourinho, who would follow him to Porto and Barcelona.

He joined FC Porto and won two league titles in 1995 and 1996, the first two of Porto's Penta (five on the trot). He left Porto for Barcelona and more success.

The Polícia de Segurança Pública (PSP), the force responsible for policing matches, has threatened to boycott games if a total debt of 7,757 euros is not paid to it. The sum is owed by four clubs: Nacional, Belenenses, Vitória de Setúbal and Santa Clara, the latter of the Liga de Honra (second tier). The professional clubs reportedly paid a total of 800 thousand euros to the PSP last season for providing agentes, who are each paid 28 euros for four hours' work. The Liga president, Herminio Loureiro, pointed out that the clubs paid the taxman 75 million euros this year, but that the Liga has been owed 100 thousand euros by the State for a number of years.

The Players' Union published on Thursday a study into the nationalities of players used last season. In the top division, Estrela da Amadora, Rio Ave, Trofense, Leixões and Sporting used more Portuguese players than foreigners. All the other clubs in the top flight, except for Paços de Ferreria (50/50), including FC Porto and Benfica, used foreigners more. Portugal was the second country in Europe, after England, with the highest percentage of foreign players.

1. Engand 59 %
2. Portugal 53.7 %
3. Belgium 51.9 %
4. Germany 51.7 %
5. Greece 51.2 %

Arsenal were the 'top' club in Europe in the use of foreign players (91.7%), while Belenenses were Portuguese 'champions' (11th in Europe with 72%).

11. Belenenses 72 %
13. Benfica 70.4 %
24. Sporting Braga 66.7%
26. F.C. Porto 65.4 %
31. Nacional da Madeira 64 %
35. Vitória de Setúbal 63.6 %

Players registered in the top two divisions last season were as follows:

Liga Sagres: 268 Portuguese, 277 foreigners
Liga Vitalis: 300 Portuguese, 159 foreigners

(source: Maisfutebol)



Sporting's Russian midfielder Marat Izmailov is back in Lisbon after undergoing surgery on his right knee last Monday. He will be out of action for around ten weeks.

Benfica, who have spent freely in the transfer market during this close season, have to pay 22 million euros by September to the company Euroárea in respect of the club's training ground in Seixal.


It was confirmed on Monday that Boavista had failed to pay off fines to the Liga (deadline last Friday) and would therefore remain relegated to the Segunda Divisão (third tier). Promoted to the Liga de Honra (second tier) are Carregado and Penafiel, who lost the promotion play-offs at the end of the season but now benefit from the forced relegations of Estrela da Amadora from the top tier (replaced by Belenenses), Vizela from the second tier and Boavista, who had the chance to take Vizela's place. (See article)

Former Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco, at Belenenses in the second half of last season, has joined Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia. Another coach who plied his trade in the top Portuguese division last season, Manuel Cajuda at Vitória de Guimarães, will coach Sharjah FC, of the United Arab Emirates


Jorge Madureira is the new coach of Boavista; as a player he represented the club in goal. He moves to Boavista from neighbours Leça. It is still not known whether Boavista will play in the Liga de Honra (second tier) or in the Segunda (third); the club have to make several financial guarantees to the Liga de Clubes by Friday.


Paulo Sousa, the new coach of English Championship side Swansea City, has brought his squad to the north of Portugal for a week's pre-season training in Ofir/Fão, near Braga.


Luís Filipe Vieira has been re-elected as Benfica president with 91.74 % of the votes, beating his only rival Bruno Carvalho with 2.71 %. blank votes totalled 5.55 %. There were 20,672 voters, the second highest number in the club's history; in 2000, 21,804 voters ousted João Vale e Azevedo in favour of Manuel Vilarinho. It will be Vieira's third straight three-year term. The result is being contested by the opposition's Bruno Carvalho, claiming that the elections, brought forward from October, were illegal.


The Supreme Court of Justice has rejected Sporting's appeal against former Sporting captain Iordanov's claim for a testimonial match. The Bulgarian international ended his playing career in 2001 and spent three years at the club in a coaching capacity. When his coaching contract was terminated, he insisted on the testimonial. Iordanov was at the club as a player for ten seasons, between 1991/92 and 2000/01.


Estrela da Amadora's registration for next season has been rejected by the Liga on financial grounds. The club spent the whole of last season in a terrible financial situation and failed to pay any salaries to the playing and coaching staff, almost all of whom have now rescinded their contracts. Estrela will now be forced to play in the non-professional Segunda Divisão (third tier). Their place in the Liga will be taken by Belenenses, 'relegated' at the end of the season.



Coach Manuel Cajuda has left Vitória de Guimarães, to be replaced by Nelo Vingada. In Portugal, Vingada last trained Académica (2006/07).

Estrela da Amadora have incorporated a Sociedade Anónima Desportiva (SAD), the corporate arm of Portuguese clubs, to be able to register for next season's competitions. If the move is not accepted by the Liga, Estrela face relegation given the large sums owed to the taxman, Social Security and playing staff. However, if the SAD gets off the ground, the registration can be made through it as the SAD would not inherit the club's debts.

Should Estrela be barred from competing in the Liga, Belenenses, 'relegated' last season, would keep their place in the top tier.

Boavista will not have a professional team next season. Relegated from the Liga de Honra to the third tier, the club had the chance of a reprieve when Gondomar and Vizela were relegated due to charges of bribery of referees. However, the club's bid to pay the large sums it owes to the State in installments was rejected by the tax authorities.

Benfica have signed a 12-year sponsorship deal with the company Central de Cervejas, producers of Sagres beer. The deal should bring in around 44 million euros over the period.

Liverpool have opened a football school in Albufeira in the Algarve, in the hope of finding new talent in Portugal. The school, with former Anfield stars John Aldridge and Peter Thompson on its staff, will begin operating on 1 July.


Former Portuguese international midfielder Paulo Sousa has joined Swansea City, of England's second tier, as coach. Sousa had an inconsequential spell at Queen's Park Rangers last season.


Domingos Paciência is Sporting Braga's new coach, replacing Jorge Jesus. Domingos previously coached União de Leiria and Académica. His contract at Braga is for two seasons.

Domingos' replacement at Académica is Jorge Gonçalves.


Paulo Bento has renewed his contract with Sporting for two more seasons. Bento became first team coach at the club in 2005.


Benfica have notified the stock exchange that they have an agreement in principle to sign Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus to replace the Spanish Quique Flores, who recently left the club by mutual accord. Benfica must pay Sporting Braga, Jesus' previous club, 700,000 euros, and the coach has waived his right to around 70,000 euros owed him by Braga in order to be able to rescind his contract. All that is now needed is for the contract, two years plus one more as optional, to be signed.

Braga had a good run in the UEFA Cup under Jesus and finished 5th in the Liga. He had previously coached Estrela da Amadora, Vitória de Setúbal, Vitória de Guimarães, União de Leiria and Belenenses, among others.

FC Porto club captain Pedro Emanuel has hung up his chuteiras at the age of 34. He will continue at the club, coaching the U-17s. For Porto he won five titles, three Taças de Portugal, a UEFA Cup, a Champions League and an Intercontinental Cup. For Boavista, his previous club, he also won a title and a Taça de Portugal.

Former National Team coach Luíz Felipe Scolari has signed an 18-month contract to coach Uzbekistan club Bunyodkor, where his compatriot Rivaldo plays. At 60, Scolari says: "I'm tired of being far away. I want to go to the beach, to manage a club here in Brazil. I'll carry on working as a coach for three or four years and then I'm retiring for good."


Luís Filipe Vieira will stand for another term as Benfica president. The directors of the club all stood down last week to enable elections to be called for 3 July, brought forward from October.


Portuguese coach Manuel José saw Angola draw 0-0 with Guinea-Conacri in his first game in charge of the Palancas Negras on Sunday. Angola will host next year's African Cup of Nationas. At Estrela da Amadora's stadium, the team lined up:

Lama, Jamba, Kali, Locó, Gilberto, Chara, Marco Airosa (Jamuana 61), David (Asha 58), Mateus (Love Cabungula 66), Flávio (Mantorras 72), Manucho (Zé Kalanga 45).


Rogério Gonçalves will take over from Domingos Paciência as coach of Académica for the coming season. Gonçalves was out of worrk last season, but previously coached clubs like Naval, Sporting Braga and Beira-Mar.

Vítor Oliveira, sports director at Leixões last season, will join relegated Trofense, taking over the coaching job from Tulipa.

The Liga's Disciplinary Committee announced on Tuesday that Gondomar and Vizela will be fined and relegated from the Liga de Honra to the third tier for influencing referees. Gondomar were down anyway, but the relegation of Vizela gives Boavista, who were destined for the drop, a reprieve – if the club can get its house in order vis-à-vis payments to players, staff, debtors and the State.



Jesualdo Ferreira has renewed his contract as coach with FC Porto after winning the tetra-campeonato for the club.

José Mourinho's Inter have won the the Italian title. Luís Figo can also celebrate the same title, but it will be for the last time: he has decided to hang up his chuteiras at the end of this season.


Belenenses coach Jaime Pacheco came to an agreement with the club over the rescission of his contract after the game. Former Porto, Sporting and Belenenses full back Rui Jorge takes over the reigns for the vital two games that remain, with the club rock bottom of the Liga.

Pacheco's is the seventh sacking of the season:

António Conceição (Toni) was replaced by Tulipa at Trofense;
Casemiro Mior > Jaime Pacheco at Belenenses;
Lito Vidigal > Lázaro at Estrela da Amadora;
João Eusébio > Carlos Brito at Rio Ave;
Daúto Faquirá > Carlos Cardoso at Vitória de Setúbal;
Lori Sandro > Carlos Carvalhal at Marítimo
Jaime Pacheco > Rui Jorge at Belenenses.


After several very successful seasons with Egyptian club Al-Ahly, coach Manuel José will leave at the end of this season, one season earlier than expected, to become Angola coach ahead of the next African Nations Cup in 2010, to be hosted by Angola.



Real Madrid's Luso-Brazilian central defender Pepe has been handed a ten-match ban from the Spanish football authorities after incidents in the midweek game against Getafe: Pepe kicked Getafe's Casquero when he was on the ground, punched Albín and insulted the referee as he left the pitch. The ban is the maximum that he could have received.


FC Porto's star forward Hulk will be out for at least the rest of the season after damaging ligaments in his left ankle during the Taça de Portugal semi-final against Estrela da Amadora in mid-week. He was tackled heavily by Estrela defender Ney Santos on 12 minutes and was stretchered off; Ney did not receive any colour of card.

FC Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa celebrated 27 years at the head of Portugal's top club on Thursday, and indicated that he will run for another term after the present one ends in 2010. Pinto da Costa was speaking at the inauguration of the club's new multi-purpose pavilion.



Four sportinguistas are facing disciplinary action from the Liga in the aftermath of the Taça de Liga Final on Saturday, which ended with Benfica taking the Cup on penalties. The final score was 1-1, Benfica's equaliser coming from a non-existent penalty given by the referee, Lucílio Baptista. The action will consider statements from president Filipe Soares Franco, coach Paulo Bento, and players João Moutinho and Pedro Silva, who used the word roubo ('robbery') to describe what had happened in the game. Pedro Silva also took his loser's medal at the presentation and threw it into the centre of the pitch.

Lucílio Baptista has received death threats following the game.

The president of the Liga's Disciplinary Committee, Ricardo Costa, was the victim of attempted assault by unknown assailants as he left the Liga building in Porto on Tuesday. Costa was in charge of the disciplinary proceedings (the so-called 'Final Whistle') that saw FC Porto president Pinto da Costa suspended for two years and Boavista relegated to the Liga de Honra (second tier) following allegations of corruption of referees in the Golden Whistle process, still going through the civil courts.



Portuguese coach Carlos Carvalhal has taken over from the sacked Brazilian Lori Sandri at Marítimo; the contract is (in theory …) for one and a half seasons. In Portugal, Carvalhal last coached Vitória de Setúbal, but started this season in Greece with Asteras Tripolis.


Lori Sandri has left the coaching position at Marítimo after the team were beaten 1-3 at Académica at the weekend. The Brazilian has been at the club since the beginning of the season and leaves them seventh in the Liga with 29 points.


Portuguese Nelo Vingada has been named coach of Iranian club Persepolis on a contract of one and a half seasons.


FC Porto may not turn up to play Sporting at Alvalade on Wednesday in the semi-final of the Taça de Liga. The other semi, between Benfica and Vitória de Guimarães, has been suspended after an appeal by Belenenses, who think they should be in Guimarães' place. In the group phase, Guimarães were considered the best second-placed team of the three groups (won by Benfica, Sporting and FC Porto). However, doubts arose as to the definition of 'goal average', the term used in the Taça da Liga regulations for the separation of teams on equal points. Guimarães and the Liga think that the term effectively means 'goal difference', in which case Guimarães finished above Belenenses. If the term is taken literally, however, i.e. the number of goals scored is divided by the number conceded, then Belenenses finished above the northern team.

Porto's objection is that if Benfica do not play midweek, and Porto do, Benfica will be fresher for the vital FC Porto v Benfica clássico next weekend.

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) is to do away with the national Third Division (fourth tier), as from 2010. Teams from the district leagues will be promoted directly to the Second Division (third tier), which will comprise three groups of 16 teams. The top teams in each group will then play a play-off phase to see which team gets promoted to the Liga de Honra (second tier), although this may be changed to two teams at a later date.

FIFA president Joseph Blatter said on Friday that candidatures from single countries for the World Cups of 2018 and 2022 will take precedence over joint-candidatures. Portugal and Spain have submitted a joint bid for 2018.



Cristiano Ronaldo has been voted FIFA World Player of the Year for 2008, beating Barçelona's Lionel Messi and Liverpool's Fenando Torres. Cristiano Ronaldo (935 points) won more points than Messi (678) and Torres (203) put together. Milan's Kaká (who won the trophy last year) and Barcelona's Xavi were fourth and fifth, respectively. The only other Portuguese player on the list was Deco, 23rd with one point.

After receiving the trophy from Pelé in Zürich, the Portuguese national team and Manchester United forward said: "This is a special moment for me. Unique. I want to thank my mother, my father, my sisters and the whole family. Now they can let off the fireworks they've been keeping. I also want to thank my friends. They know who they are, but I have to mention Zé, my agent Jorge Mendes and all the others. And my team-mates, because without them i couldn't have made it. I'm really very happy. It's one of the happiest moments of my life. I hope to be back."

Cristiano Ronaldo is only the second Portuguese player to receive the accolade since its inception in 1991; Luís Figo won it in 2001.


Sporting president Filipe Soares Franco has announced that he is not going to stand again for president in the club's elections of May/June. He has cited other business commitments as the reason for his decision. He also believes that the sócios (club members) would not agree with his plans to get the club out of its financial predicament; it is in the red to the tune of over 200 million euros.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo crashed his 350,000 euro Ferrari 599 in a tunnel on the way to training on Thursday but emerged unscathed.

Portugal international full-back Miguel of Valência has been banned for three games. He was sent off in the last minute of the 1-1 draw with Racing Santander in the Taça del Rey on Wednesday and allegedly said to the referee "You b*st*rd, I'm going to kill you, you're a b*st*rd." He has since apologised.


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