Soccer-World-Joao Pinto ban covers club, Couto in the clear
Portugal forward Joao Pinto has been provisionally suspended from playing club as well as international football after he punched a referee at the World Cup finals, world governing body FIFA has said.
FIFA communications director Keith Cooper confirmed that the suspension announced on Tuesday stops Joao Pinto from playing for his Portuguese premier league club Sporting Lisbon.
"He can't play for his club," Cooper told a news conference.
FIFA's disciplinary committee has yet to make a decision on any final punishment for the incident in Friday's first-round 1-0 defeat by South Korea, when Joao Pinto punched Argentine referee Angel Sanchez after being sent off.
Players are not allowed to touch the referee.
Joao Pinto faces the prospect of a long international match ban, which could rule him out of at least the first stages of the 2004 European championship finals in Portugal.
Cooper could not say when a final decision would be made. The committee has asked for further information in the case.
"It will be dealt with as quickly as possible," Cooper said.
Portugal captain Fernando Couto, who manhandled the referee after he showed the red card to Joao Pinto, appears to have escaped a ban.
"He is not a factor in the equation," Cooper said.
FIFA has its own video of the incident, which formed a key part of Tuesday's disciplinary committee meeting involving Sanchez.
The punch was not clearly visible on broadcast television pictures of the Portugal players' protests. But a FIFA video camera placed near the corner flag with a clear line of sight to the referee has recorded the incident.
Joao Pinto was one of two Portuguese players to be sent off in an intense atmosphere in Inchon where the Korean team were roared on by a hugely partisan crowd. Portugal's Beto Severo was dismissed for a second yellow card later in the game.
Portugal defender Abel Xavier was banned for nine months for manhandling a referee in protest after they went out of the 2000 European championship in the semi-finals against France through a golden goal. The ban was later reduced on appeal.
A Joao Pinto ban could affect Euro 2004 since Portugal qualify automatically as hosts and will therefore only play friendlies in the next two years. Only competitive games count in match bans imposed by the world governing body.
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