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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Three teams, five referees punished in scandal

LISBON, Portugal -- In Portugal's biggest soccer scandal, FC Porto was deducted six points Friday for trying to bribe referees in two games during the 2003-04 season. The team is headed to a third straight league championship this weekend, and the punishment will not affect its title bid. The league disciplined two other first-division clubs for attempting to fix league matches. Boavista dropped to the second division and Leiria lost points. All three clubs denied the charges. Five referees also were found guilty of corruption and drew suspensions ranging from 2½ years to six years. The punishments take effect within three working days unless they are appealed. Porto also was fined $230,000 by the league's disciplinary committee. Club chairman Jorge Pinto da Costa was barred from the bench during games for two years. Porto has a 14-point lead going into Sunday's final round. Boavista was fined $278,000 after being found guilty of trying to coerce referees in three games during the 2003-04 season. Joao Loureiro, its chairman at the time, was suspended for four years and fined $39,000. Leiria was penalized three points and fined $61,700, with its chairman suspended a year. Porto won one of the two games investigated and played to a tie in the other on its way to clinching the championship under then-coach Jose Mourinho. The charges were taken from a lawsuit brought by Portugal's public prosecutor against Porto's chairman for alleged attempted bribery. No date has been set for the trial. Pinto da Costa has denied the allegations. Mourinho is not mentioned in the league charges or in the lawsuit. The disciplinary committee questioned 85 people during the investigation and compiled a case file containing almost 1,000 pages. "We feel we have made a positive contribution to soccer in Portugal," committee president Ricardo Costa said.

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