(Recasts with UEFA statement)
LISBON, June 13 UEFA will reassess Porto's
position in next season's Champions League after annulling the
decision to exclude the club over alleged bribery of referees in
the 2003-04 season, Europe's governing body said on Friday.
UEFA said in a statement that in light of new evidence
submitted in relation to domestic Portuguese appeals procedures,
its Appeals Body referred the June 4 decision back to the
Control and Disciplinary Body.
"Having listened to representatives of Porto, the Portuguese
Football Federation, SL Benfica and Vitoria SC, as well as UEFA,
the Appeals Body decided to annul the challenged decision," UEFA
said on its Web site (www.uefa.com)
"The Control and Disciplinary Body will meet next week to
take a decision on Porto's admission to the 2008/09 UEFA
Porto said that the omission from the original process of
Vitoria Guimaraes and Benfica -- the third and fourth placed
teams who would benefit from their exclusion -- was the reason
the case had been returned.
"The jury understood that Vitoria Guimaraes and Benfica
should have been invited to comment from the beginning of the
process in their quality as interested parties," the club said
in a statement.
UEFA's initial decision to exclude Porto came after
disciplinary action was taken last month against the club by
Portuguese soccer authorities.
There has been a lengthy investigation into the so-called
"Apito Dourado," or Golden Whistle case in Portugal and it has
been headline news for several years.
At the time UEFA said that Porto broke its rules by trying
to influence the outcome of matches through the alleged bribery.
The Disciplinary Commission of the Professional Portuguese
Football League stripped Porto of six points and fined the club
150,000 euros ($234,000) after its probe of two matches that
took place in 2003-04.
(Reporting by Carlos Pontes and Axel Bugge; editing by