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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 11:36 GMT
Fifa rules in Paraguay
By Tim Vickery

Fifa, world football's governing body, may yet get involved in the Rio Ferdinand case, if it takes issue with how the English FA handle the case.

Ferdinand faces a ban of up to two years if found guilty of wilfully refusing a drug test.

Fifa's power to implement its own rules in England's Premier League are limited, but that is not the case anywhere.

Paraguayan club Olimpia once stepped outside the sports justice system to seek redress in the law courts.

Ruben Maldonado
The row over Maldonado's transfer eventually saw Olimpia banned
They defied the force of Fifa, but soon felt the consequences of their action and were quickly forced to back down.

Olimpia are a big club. Only one team can beat their record of 34 appearances in the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League.

In the history of the competition the title has eluded the traditional three powers of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil on five occasions - and on three of those Olimpia lifted the title, most recently last year.

The club president is the colourful and influential Oswaldo Dominguez Dibb, who, last year, attempted to become president of Paraguay.

Dibb had familial ties with the country's dictator General Stroessner - who ruled the country for decades and named everything after himself - and although the general is now gone, Dibb remains influential.

His ownership of the La Nacion paper gives him a powerful media voice, and he is no shrinking violet.

He is a controversial club president, given to taking out full page adverts to complain about refereeing decisions.

But Fifa is not impressed by such belligerence.

Olimpia's grievance was that Italian side Venezia had signed their international defender Ruben Maldonado.

Olimpia thought they were entitled to a transfer fee, and were prepared to take legal action to make sure they got one.

Fifa disagreed.

Rio Ferdinand
If Ferdinand fights his charge, Fifa could become embroiled in the row
And when Olimpia stuck to their guns, the governing body took action.

Olimpia were suspended from all international competitions.

On 21 August 2001 Olimpia had a match scheduled against Flamengo of Brazil in the Copa Mercosur, at the time South America's second-most important club competition.

The game was cancelled, and the Brazilians declared 2-0 winners. The same was set to happen with all of Olimpia's subsequent fixtures in the competition.

Without international activity Olimpia could not survive.

Paraguay is a poor country with a population of only just over five million. If they were to remain an important club, Olimpia needed the box office money and, especially, television revenue from continent-wide club competitions.

The club quickly withdrew their legal complaint, were re-instated in the Copa Mercosur and on 20 September 2001 they were back in action against San Lorenzo, of Argentina - learning a tough lesson in the process.





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