Sporting to sack Joao Pinto if Fifa impose ban
Monday 24th June 2002
Sporting president Dias da Cunha has admitted the club could fire disgraced Portugal star Joao Pinto if he is banned by Fifa for punching referee Angel Sanchez.
"In the case of a severe punishment, we would have to make a tough decision," he said.
Joao Pinto is under investigation by Fifa following the South Korea-Portugal game on June 14, when Sanchez cited him for assault.
The forward had just been dismissed for a late challenge, leaving his team-mates to fight for most of the match against the co-hosts with ten men. The task proved beyond them as Korea won 1-0 to dump Portugal out of the World Cup.
Da Cunha nonetheless vowed to defend Joao Pinto at his Fifa hearing. "We are with him in this public trial," he said. "Joao Pinto could be banned, but for now we have to back him. He has become the scapegoat of the nation's frustration.
"If he receives a long ban, the coach will have to inform me what he intends to happen, although Joao Pinto is no ordinary player, so the last word will be mine.
"I confess that I'm not ready to face this situation, but I recognise the club have responsibilities in all this. Discipline is fundamental. Joao Pinto will have to be punished, not for violent behaviour, but because he exceeded in his protests.
"We will wait calmly and peacefully for a decision. At least Fifa have shown they want some distance to judge by not basing their decision purely on the referee's report."