FC Porto president Jorge Pinto da Costa has been cleared of allegations of trying to bribe a top referee by providing him with two prostitutes after judges threw out the testimony of a key witness.
At the end of a case which came to be known as ‘Fruit and Chocolate’ – in reference to the nicknames used by the prostitutes allegedly used by Pinto da Costa – the FC Porto chief was originally cleared by judges.
The public prosecutor lodged an appeal, but on Thursday the initial ruling was upheld by a court of appeal in Porto.
It said the testimony of the accused’s ex-wife, Carolina Salgado, who had alleged that Pinto da Costa had tried to bribe a referee by supplying him with two prostitutes prior to an FC Porto match against Estrela Amadora in 2004, was “not credible”.
The affair is, however, only one part of a larger scandal which has come to be known as the ‘Golden Whistle’, and which since erupting in April 2004 has led to guilty verdicts for a number of top officials and referees.
Pinto da Costa, who has presided over the top Portuguese club since 1982, next month will face arguably more serious charges of trying to bribe match referees.
In particular he is accused of bribing a referee who officiated a Beira-Mar v FC Porto encounter in April 2004, a year of huge success for the club who won the Portuguese championship and the Champions League.
Although yet to be judged Pinto da Costa has been suspended from football activities by Portuguese league chiefs since May 2008.
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