Seedorf escapes 12-match ban

Rio de Janeiro, April 10 (IANS) Clarence Seedorf is free to play for Botafogo against Friburguense after the former AC Milan midfielder was spared a possible 12-match ban by a Brazilian sports tribunal.

The 36-year-old faced charges of “conduct contrary to the ethics of sport” and “offending the referee’s honour” over an incident that led to his injury-time dismissal in Botafogo’s 2-1 victory over Madureira March 24.

The former Dutch international was shown successive yellow cards after arguing with referee Philip Georg Bennett over where to leave the pitch when substituted during the Campeonato Carioca match, Xinhua reports.

“The referee did not want to talk to me,” Seedorf said during Tuesday’s hearing. “I have never been told to leave on the other side of the pitch (opposite to the substitutes’ bench). For me it was normal. That’s my culture and I was trying to explain that. At no time did I disrespect him.

“What happened in my opinion was a communication failure between me and the referee. I think the difficulty with the Portuguese language didn’t help. In fact, there were several instances throughout the match that showed a clear lack of understanding between the referee and other match officials.”

Judge Renata Mansur Bacellar handed Seedorf a one-match suspension, already served, and a warning for unsporting conduct. The second charge was dropped after Bennett said he did not feel offended by Seedorf’s actions.

Both offences carry maximum penalties of six matches each.

The dismissal was just the second of Seedorf’s 21-year professional career. The first was while playing for AC Milan during an Italian Serie A match against Messina in April 2006.

Madureira defender Gabriel, criticised for encouraging Bennett to show Seedorf a second yellow card, responded to several questions by saying he did not recall the incident.

He was subsequently charged with giving a false testimony and faces a ban of up to a year. A date for the hearing is yet to be determined.

“I came here to give evidence and now I’m leaving as the culprit,” Gabriel said.

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