Portugal coach Scolari's ban cut to three games

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BERNE, Switzerland, Oct 4 (Reuters) Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's four-match ban for the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign has effectively been reduced to three matches following a meeting of UEFA's appeals body.

UEFA said today the ban had been changed to three months including one month suspended, allowing Scolari to resume his coaching duties one day before his team's final qualifying match against Group A rivals Finland on Nov. 21.

Scolari received the original punishment from UEFA following what European soccer's governing body termed an ''assault'' on Serbia player Ivica Dragutinovic following Portugal's 1-1 qualifying draw against the visitors in September.

Dragutinovic, who was shown a red card at the end of the match, was given a two-match ban for improper conduct.

Scolari will still be unable to coach Portugal during their visits to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in October and at home to Armenia in November in their qualifying campaign.

PROBATION PERIOD Under the terms of the ban he will be barred from entering the dressing room, technical areas and the pitch and will also not be allowed to communicate with the team.

The third month of Scolari's ban will only come into effect if the Brazilian misbehaves again during a probationary two-year period.

The appeals body said the original 16,960 dollars fine also awarded against Scolari would stand.

UEFA noted that Scolari was entitled to launch a further appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but the Portuguese Football Federation said it was satisfied with today's outcome.

''Obviously, I accept this decision by UEFA, which comes from the position stated by the Portuguese Federation that the initial penalty was too excessive,'' federation president Gilberto Madail told Portuguese television.

''UEFA itself was sensitive to the argument presented by the coach, recognising that the suspension for four games was disproportional when all the facts were analysed in their totality.'' Portugal are third in Group A four points adrift of leaders Poland and two behind Finland but with a game in hand.

REUTERS BJR KP2048

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