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The BBC's Mike Ingham
"Portugal can expect tough disciplinary action from Uefa"
 real 28k

Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 05:45 GMT 06:45 UK
Uefa delays decision on fracas
France v Portugal
Portugal's players react angrily to the penalty award
Uefa will wait until Sunday morning before deciding what action to take over disgraceful scenes which marred Portugal's Euro 2000 semi-final against France.

Austrian referee Gunter Benko and his assistant were both hassled and abused by the Portuguese either side of Zinedine Zidane's controversial golden goal penalty.

Everton defender Abel Xavier was adjudged to have handled a shot from substitute Sylvain Wiltord, sparking fierce protests from Humberto Coelho's side.

Coelho was forced to drag many of his players away from the officials before the penalty was finally taken, after which the complaints then vehemently continued against the officials.



I had no intention of handling the ball, in my view it was not a penalty... my conscience is clear

Abel Xavier

They led to Nuno Gomes, who scored Portugal's opener in the 2-1 defeat, being shown the red card by Benko.

A spokesperson for Uefa said a hearing had already been held with a view to taking action over the weekend.

"A disciplinary committee hearing was held on Thursday morning and a decision will be taken on Sunday morning after Saturday's UEFA Congress," a statement confirmed.

Xavier meanwhile has condemned the penalty decision as "unbelievable" and insisted: "My conscience is clear."


France v Portugal
Xavier: It was a very strange decision
"If you try to block the ball, you cannot do that without your hand supporting you on the ground.

"But the linesman decided that I intended to handle the ball.

"It's unbelievable that he gave a penalty and it decided the game in a bad way because we didn't deserve to lose. France don't need that kind of help.

"I'm disappointed like the rest of the team but my conscience is clear. I had no intention of handling the ball, in my view it was not a penalty and it was a very strange decision at that moment of the game."

Reaction

When asked about the reaction of the Portuguese players, Xavier added: "When you lose the game like that, it's not easy to accept.

"When you are human and work very hard in the game to try to achieve something very important and yet you lose in that way, you have a normal reaction.

"Portugal is a small country and we are delighted with the way we have performed and we have shown that we are a good football team.

Shame

"Everyone is disappointed though as we had started to change the image of Portugal. We showed that Portugal deserve more respect in the future but we had a dream of getting to the final and it was not possible.

"We respect France and shook hands with them, but it's a shame that it finished in that way.

"I'm sorry for my country, the fans, the manager and the work of two years to achieve something important. This generation has played together for so long to win something."

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See also:

29 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
Dignity in defeat?
28 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Zidane sends France through
29 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Lemerre salutes 'great' referee
28 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Portugal coach resigns
28 Jun 00 | Euro2000
France v Portugal clockwatch
28 Jun 00 | Photo Gallery
France v Portugal in pictures
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