UEFA ban Scolari for last four Euro qualifiers

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ZURICH, Sep 21 (Reuters) UEFA have banned Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari for four matches following his attack on Serbia player Ivica Dragutinovic, European soccer's governing body said in a statement.

The punishment, announced by UEFA's disciplinary body, means Scolari will be unable to coach Portugal during their last four Euro 2008 qualifying matches although he has decided to appeal.

''Before and during the match, he will not be allowed to go in the team dressing-room, the tunnel, or the technical zone, or on the pitch,'' UEFA said on its Web site yesterday.

''In addition, he will not be allowed to communicate with his team.'' Scolari, who also received a 16,780 dollars fine for what UEFA termed his ''assault'' on left back Dragutinovic, was seen lashing out at the player following Portugal's 1-1 draw at home to Serbia in their Group A qualifier on September 12.

Dragutinovic, who was shown a red card at the end of the match, was also given a two-match ban for improper conduct and will miss Serbia's qualifying matches in Armenia and Azerbaijan on October 13 and 17 respectively.

Scolari said: ''Although I have recognised with all honesty my mistake I think the sanction is excessive. The player who started this whole situation was suspended for two games and that is why I will appeal this decision as soon as the Portuguese Federation receives the written reasons.'' Portugal finished runners-up on home soil when they hosted the last European Championship in 2004 but are struggling to book a place at next year's finals.

Scolari's team are third in Group A, four points adrift of leaders Poland and two points behind Finland with only the top two qualifying for the finals.

Portugal and fourth-placed Serbia, who are five points off the pace, have a game in hand over the top two.

Subject to any appeal, Scolari will sit out the matches away to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in October and at home against Armenia and Finland in November.

REUTERS TB BST1007

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