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By ESPN Staff
Sep 8, 2006

Gil Vicente raise stakes in relegation row

LISBON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Portuguese club Gil Vicente decided on Friday to maintain an appeal in a civil court over their relegation to the second division.

The decision raises the stakes in a row which has prompted soccer's world governing body FIFA to threaten to suspend Portugal from international tournaments.

The Portuguese Soccer Federation (FPF) confirmed on Thursday that Gil Vicente would be replaced by Belenenses in the Premier League after they broke rules concerning the mid-season registration of amateur Angolan player Mateus.

Gil Vicente then compounded the error by applying to a civil court to clear the player's eligibility, contravening more league and FIFA rules.

Belenenses were relegated at the end of last season.

Gil Vicente decided at a general assembly, which ran into the early hours of Friday, to stand by its appeal of the suspension of Mateus, which had disrupted the start of the Premier League season.

FIFA has given the FPF until Sept. 14 to resolve the wrangle or it could suspend Portugal from all international tournaments.

Gil Vicente president Antonio Fiuza told supporters during the assembly that he would consider taking Mateus' case to European courts.

The FPF has presented a special measure to the civil court, invoking the public interest, in the hope that it can annul the court's appeal of Mateus' suspension.

The court could decide on Friday whether to drop Gil Vicente's appeal.