From last Friday, Portugal’s top tier football division, the Superliga Galp Energia, ceased to exist, the Liga Betandwin was born. A simple change of sponsorship, you may think – far from it. Since the idea that the giant internet betting world lends its name to the country’s version of England’s Premiership was born, controversy has raged.
The fact is, Austrian gambling company Betandwin.com will pay around 10 million euros over four years. Gambling outside officially sanctioned casinos or the charitable Santa Casa da Misericordia organized weekly national lottery, is illegal. Stanley Leisure, for example, failed to gain a foothold in Portugal ahead of the Euro 2004 championships last year, yet the nation’s most popular and high profile sporting events will now take place under what amounts to a criminal banner. If pursued by an individual, any such move would certainly result in a hefty fine and prison.But in this case money talks.
Confusion of a more practical nature surrounds the kick-off of the Liga da Honra, Portugal’s equivalent to England’s Coca-Cola Championship, the old First Division. Days before the season was supposed to start, it was announced that Alverca and Felgueiras would not be allowed to take part due to financial insolvency. Instead, the league committee invited relegated Gundomar and Chaves to come back up. Sporting Espinho were nominated as a reserve, should either of the aforementioned be unable to meet financial prerequisites. Neither could! The 16 clubs which remain in the division expressed revulsion at the situation, which has still not been resolved.
Meanwhile the ball started rolling again up and down the country, Sporting beat Belenenses 2-1, Benfica drew at Academia 0-0, and Porto won 1-0 at home.