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By ESPN Staff

FIFA gives Portugal 10 days to sort out Gil row

LISBON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - FIFA has given Portugal's soccer federation until September 14 to resolve a legal row over club Gil Vicente which has disrupted the start of the country's Premier League season, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) said on Monday.

According to the FPF Web site, FIFA had decided to hold a meeting of its emergency committee to consider suspending the FPF from all international tournaments if there was no resolution by September 14.

'This situation not only weakens soccer as well as affecting the integrity of competitions,' the Portuguese federation cited FIFA as saying.

There was nobody immediately available for comment from FIFA when contacted by Reuters.

The row started earlier this month with the relegation of Gil Vicente from the Premier League after they used an ineligible player, Mateus.

The small club with 5,500 members challenged the suspension of the Angolan player in a civil court, contravening league and FIFA rules.

FPF head Gilberto Madail travelled to Zurich with two federation legal advisors last week to meet FIFA officials in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

FIFA said the situation had to be resolved in such a way that the 'legal soccer organs are respected,' in Portugal, according to the Portuguese federation.

The Portuguese federation said it was also considering invoking a special measure in the public interest which would annul the civil court's decision - a move which would allow league games to return to normal.

The federation said it hoped such a move could avoid a suspension by FIFA, leaving only Gil Vicente to deal with the consequence of their decision to bypass league rules by going to the civil court.

Gil Vicente, based in the north of Portugal, are holding a general assembly on Thursday to decide whether to withdraw or maintain their appeal in the civil court.

Gil were relegated to the second division last season and replaced by Belenenses.