Rivaldo cleared for Sunday

Olympiakos’s Brazilian star Rivaldo was made available for selection for Sunday’s potential league title clincher against Kerkyra at home after a sports tribunal dropped charges against the player for a red-card incident last weekend. Rivaldo successfully appealed a red card he was shown, arguing that he was wrongly sent off in a Super League match against Larissa. The Brazilian, who turned 35 yesterday, was shown the first red card of his career when he appeared to hit Larissa’s Giorgos Galitsios. Television pictures suggested that Galitsios made more of the incident than necessary, clutching his face after Rivaldo had punched the ball from his hands as he tried to get on with a free kick. «It was not fair as I did not do anything wrong,» said Rivaldo. «All I did was try to get the ball in order to execute the free kick. I did not hit anyone. I would never hit a player. My opponent acted very well and the referee believed that.» Olympiakos would be crowned league champion for the 10th time in 11 seasons on Sunday with a win over Kerkyra, currently hovering four points above the relegation zone. Rivaldo’s red card conjured up memories of another incident from the 2002 World Cup when the Brazilian simulated being hit in the face by the ball after Turkish defender Hakan Unsal had kicked it against his thigh in an aggressive fashion. Rivaldo was waiting to be given the ball to take a corner kick. Unsal was sent off and Brazil went on to win the tightly contested semifinal, 2-1, as well as the World Cup. At the time, Rivaldo had declared: «I was glad to see the red card. Creative players must be able to express themselves if soccer is to stay a beautiful game. It doesn’t matter where the ball hit me. It was the intent that counted.» Panathinaikos striker Dimitris Papadopoulos was given a lighter-than-expected suspension of one game. He hit Apollon Kalamaria’s Alban Bushi, apparently in retaliation for being spat at. Larissa was fined 5,000 euros for fan misbehavior. Olympiakos General Director Savvas Theodoridis was struck by an object tossed from the stands as he exited the Larissa stadium after last Sunday’s game.

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