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UEFA to hear Portuguese player appeal in August


LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - European soccer body UEFA will meet next month to review lengthy bans handed out to Portuguese internationals Abel Xavier, Nuno Gomes and Paulo Bento for excessive protests at Euro 2000.

Xavier's English premier league side Everton on Friday quoted UEFA as confirming: ``We have received an appeal from Everton and Portugal and the matter will be dealt with by our appeals body on August 2 and 3.''

Defender Xavier was suspended from all matches in UEFA competitions for nine months.

Benfica striker Nuno Gomes was banned for eight months and Real Oviedo midfielder Bento for six after their protests during a semifinal that France won with a penalty.

France were awarded the controversial extra time penalty with the score at 1-1 and with a penalty shoot-out looming after Xavier was judged to have handled a shot by Sylvain Wiltord near the goal line.

The trouble flared after Slovak linesman Igor Sramka raised his flag to signal a handball against Xavier and continued to keep his flag in the air after referee Guenter Benko of Austria had awarded France a corner.

Benko then consulted the linesman and changed his decision, awarding France the penalty.

The Portuguese players began pushing and haranguing the referee and the linesman who were bruised and scratched in the melee. Sramka was then pushed and insulted after Zinedine Zidane had converted the penalty.

Everton's website (www.evertonfc.com) reported that the club had appealed against Xavier's suspension on the grounds that ``it is fundamentally wrong to punish a player at club level for an incident that occurred on the international stage.''

Everton did not qualify for European competition next season but Xavier said this month that the international suspension could rule out any overseas move.

``This does great damage to my career because there were clubs which were interested in me, clubs which are involved in European competitions,'' he said earlier this month
 
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