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Brazil Soccer Club Was Offered Cash to End Claim Over Demotion

Brazilian team Portuguesa said it contacted prosecutors after claiming the country’s soccer ruling body offered the club a financial inducement to drop legal proceedings against demotion to the second tier.

The case comes five months before Brazil hosts the World Cup and raises concerns about the power of the biggest teams over the national game.

Brazil’s soccer authority, known as CBF, docked Portuguesa four points after ruling the Sao Paulo-based team fielded an ineligible player for a portion of a game last season. The decision meant 2012 champion Fluminense was spared from relegation at the expense of Portuguesa, which is challenging the decision in the courts.

ESPN Brasil published a document sent by CBF to Portuguesa offering an advance of 4 million reais ($1.7 million) should the team drop its legal claim. Portuguesa said in a statement on its website the document was accurate and that it was passing it on to prosecutors. CBF declined to comment.

Fluminense, a four-time national champion and one of Rio de Janeiro’s most popular clubs, has been spared from relegation in the past too. Portuguesa, among the smallest top-flight teams, had its best season in 1996 when it came second.

Earlier this month the Superior Court of Sporting Justice reinstated the points Portuguesa was docked after agreeing with a claim that it wasn’t properly made aware midfielder Heverton should have been serving a suspension. Further appeals are likely before it becomes clear whether Fluminense or Portuguesa will be playing top-division soccer next season.

The situation does “a disservice to Brazilian soccer” the sports court said after it ruled in Portuguesa’s favor. “It generates uncertainty and instability for the organization of competitions, and causes serious financial losses to clubs and fans, without mentioning the effect it has on Brazil’s credibility on the eve of the World Cup.”

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