LISBON, April 8 (Reuters) - Sporting fans jeered club president Bruno de Carvalho as their team beat Pacos de Ferreira 2-0 on Sunday amid a tense atmosphere which followed a tumultuous week at the club.
De Carvalho announced the suspension on Friday of nearly the entire first team squad over a social media spat with the players who were upset at his criticism of their performance in the Europa League defeat by Atletico Madrid.
The announcement, which was posted on Facebook but not on the club’s official website, was later removed and De Carvalho appeared to back down on Saturday when coach Jorge Jesus said he had been given freedom to pick whoever he wanted.
However, hours before Sunday’s match, De Carvalho posted a long message on Facebook where he said the players would still face disciplinary proceedings, although he did not name them nor say how many there were.
De Carvalho said he had not suspended the players because “this would not have the effect of a punishment but would just be used as yet another excuse for them to avoid fulfilling the duties and obligations for which they are paid.”
Portuguese media said on Friday that 19 players had posted a message on their social media pages repudiating De Carvalho’s comments on the Atletico game.
De Carvalho, who unusually for a club president sits on the team bench at matches, was jeered as he took his place on Sunday before the game.
Some fans waved white handkerchiefs at him and others held up banners demanding his resignation.
Bas Dost and Bryan Ruiz scored in each half to leave Sporting third in the table, six points behind Benfica with five games to play.
Coach Jesus said in a touchline interview that he was “always on the side of the players.”
He added: “I’ve never experienced a situation like this. Sporting is a club with history and it’s the players who make the clubs grow.”
Jesus said he had not noticed any disciplinary proceedings against the players. (Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern Editing by Ian Chadband)