PORTUGAL: EX-PRESIDENT OF BENFICA FOOTBALL CLUB ARRESTED OVER OVCHINNIKOV DEAL

The ex-President of Sport Lisboa e Benfica, otherwise better known as Benfica Football Club, Dr. Joao Vale e Azevedo, has been placed under house arrest and is under investigation for serious irregularities over the Ovchinnikov deal. Ovchinnikov, the Russian goalkeeper, is innocent and one hastens to point out that he has no blame in the case whatever. When FC Alverca, a satellite club of Benfica, bought Ovchinnikov from Benfica three years ago for 700,000 USD, it is claimed that the money went directly into the President’s private bank account and not into the club. This is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Vale e Azevedo has been under suspicion of having committed many financial crimes in recent years and it is claimed that the Presidency of Benfica guaranteed him a certain immunity. Last year the Presidency of Benfica changed when the club’s associates voted for the rival team of Dr. Manuel Vilarinho, who is now the President. Ovchinnikov now lines up alongside Alenitchev at FC Porto. The two Russians have worked hard to gain a regular first-team place. Ovchinnikov is solid in goal and Alenitchev is often voted Man of the Match. FC Porto are progressing well in the UEFA Cup (they should in principle pass to the quarter-finals) and are currently third in the Portuguese League. TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY, PRAVDA.RU, LISBON