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· Running a lax ship
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BRAZIL (goalnetwork) -- Luiz Felipe Scolari, coach of Copa Libertadores runners-up Palmeiras, may have to cope with more than just the disappointment of losing the final on penalties to Argentina's Boca Juniors.

'Big Phil,' as the controversial Palmeiras boss is known, is likely to find himself in hot water with the South American Confederation (CSF) after claiming before Wednesday's match that there was a plot to favour Boca.

Scolari said the "cards are marked" and claimed he had been given the information by a high-ranking source. But he would not elaborate.

His remarks caused outrage amongst Boca officials, who said they would protest to the CSF demanding sanctions. Boca Juniors president Mauricio Macri said: "Scolari is a big mouth. When he came to Buenos Aires, he said that he feared for the safety of his players. Now he comes out with this."

Macri added that Scolari had ‘disgraced’ his job with the declaration, while one Argentine newspaper dubbed the Palmeiras coach a ‘professional provocateur.’ A CSF spokesman described Scolari's predictions as ‘unfortunate’ and warned that Big Phil could soon be up before the authorities.

In the event, Paraguayan referee Epifanio Gonzalez made a couple of controversial decisions - one in favour of each side - but did absolutely nothing to back up Scolari's claims.

He disallowed what seemed a good Boca Juniors goal in the fourth minute for offside and failed to award Palmeiras a penalty for what looked like a push on Faustino Asprilla as the Colombian tried to make contact with a cross from Euller. Otherwise, there could be few complaints about his officiating.

Colombian Asprilla, who has had an unhappy year that has included several run-ins with Big Phil, was one of two Palmeiras players to have his penalty saved by Oscar Cordoba in the shootout.

As usual, he started the match as a substitute but came on after Marcelo Ramos was injured. However, Asprilla seems set to return to Parma because of envy in the Palmeiras camp over his salary, one of the highest in the squad.

Wednesday's penalty shootout defeat denied Scolari a hat-trick of Libertadores titles. He had already won with Gremio in 1995 and with Palmeiras again last year.

The coach, famous for his blunt style, has performed a remarkable job in the last six months, rebuilding last year's title-winning team almost from scratch after key players Zinho, Paulo Nunes, Oseas and Junior Baiano were all offloaded.
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