26 January ~ The Apito Dourado (Golden Whistle) scandal in Portugal concerned alleged bribery of referees, influence peddling and general corruption in football at the beginning of the 2000s. Its scope fell on various top figures in the Portuguese game, but one in particular was targeted – FC Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa (PdaC). The action that went through the criminal courts saw PdaC cleared, some would say controversially, of two important accusations – that he, with the help of others, bribed the referees before two games in 2004, versus Estrela da Amadora and Beira-Mar.
In a parallel disciplinary action, known as Apito Final (Final Whistle), the Liga took it into its own hands to discipline PdaC and the club – a two-year suspension for the former and a six-point deduction for the latter. The storm caused by Apito Dourado appeared to have blown over until last week, when the phone taps from the criminal case were posted on YouTube. There was nothing really new to be learned from the publication; the transcripts of the conversations had been leaked almost from the very beginning of the criminal proceedings. What was enlightening, however, apart from the sordidness of it all, was the general tone of arrogance among the protagonists. If they knew they were being tapped, there was little effort made to conceal what they were up to, apart from various code words (for example "Number One" to refer to PdaC, "fruit" to refer to prostitutes) and the use of indirect language. But the very use of code suggests an attempt to conceal wrongdoing.
Pinto da Costa has made a criminal complaint about the publication. No one knows who posted the recordings, but there is a suspicion that a benfiquista hand is at work somewhere along the line. Benfica have their best chance in years to win the title and anything that can unsettle their arch rivals will be seen by them as a bonus. Phil Town
The main taps, in chronological order:
Boavista 0-1 FC Porto October 27, 2003
November 28 After the game, PdaC arranges a story with journalist Tavares Teles, whereby Deco would refuse to play for the national team at Euro 2004 if he was suspended for throwing a boot at referee Paulo Paraty.
November 28 PdaC phones Deco to tell him about the arranged story and tells him to say "No comment. I'll speak when the time's right," if anyone asks him about it.
November 29 Porto director Antero Henrique phones PdaC to congratulate him: "I'll tell you something... I knew you were a genius, but this time... fuck me... I think it's a fantastic bit of blackmail … spectacular!"
FC Porto 2-0 Estrela da Amadora January 24, 2004
January 24 Just hours before the game, António Araújo, a players' agent close to PdaC, phones him to ask whether some "fruit" can be delivered to the match officials. PdaC says there's no need: "It's already been sent." Araújo says no, "fruit for sleeping" (prostitutes). PdaC asks if it was JP (referee Jacinto Paixão) who asked for it. Araújo says yes. PdaC says: "Tell him yes, of course". Araújo says: "I asked him if he wanted coffee with milk, very dark or light... "
January 24 PdaC phones Araújo. He's in the Antas Stadium and is anxious that Araújo, late, will not be able to speak to Jacinto Paixão. "I've said all I have to say to him," responds Araújo. "I don't know if you've said everything," remarks PdaC, cryptically.
January 24 Araújo phones Porto director Fernando Gomes to ask for three match tickets for "three goddesses". Gomes says that Araújo will have to pay for the tickets, but that as it's "for that deal we spoke about", he can claim them back as expenses.
Sporting 1-1 FC Porto February 2, 2004
February 2 Pinto da Costa calls the Liga president at the time, Valentim Loureiro, to ask him to bring disciplinary action against Sporting striker Liedson for elbowing Porto's Jorge Costa during Sporting v FC Porto (1-1). "OK, I'll look into it." He then boasts at how, before the game, he blanked Sporting director and future club president José Eduardo Bettencourt. Finally, he claims that the story of Mourinho ripping the shirt of Sporting's Rui Jorge after the game was invented by Bettencourt to get his own back. Sporting's kit-man (the famous Paulinho, referred to three times by PdaC as "that retard") had reportedly taken the shirt to the Porto changing room to swap it with Vítor Baia's.
Beira-Mar 0-0 FC Porto April 18 2004
April 16 António Araújo phones referee Augusto Duarte to arrange to have dinner with PdaC, whom he calls "O Senhor Engenheiro Máximo" (The Number One) and "The Bank Manager". Duarte says he can't make it because he has a refereeing class and has to take his wife to see a game (Braga v Benfica), but they decide on lunch.
April 16 António Araújo phones PdaC. There has been a change of plans and Duarte can now make it that very night.
April 16 António Araújo phones Duarte to confirm the location of the meet.
Beira-Mar 0-0 FC Porto April 18 2004
April 16 António Araújo drives Augusto Duarte to meet PdaC, but has to call the Porto president to get exact directions.