Sporting defend coach Amorim after complaint by coaches' union

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Primeira Liga - Sporting CP v Gil Vicente - Estadio Jose Alvalade, Lisbon, Portugal - July 1, 2020 Sporting's coach Ruben Amorim reacts, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Mario Cruz/Pool via REUTERS

LISBON (Reuters) - Sporting have defended their manager Ruben Amorim and denounced a complaint against him by the national coaches' union, which has asked for him to be suspended for up to six years for not being qualified as a head coach.

The Lisbon club, who are on course to win their first title in 19 years, said in an official statement that the coaches' union had accused Amorim of committing fraud when he became Sporting's manager in March 2020.

The union complained at the time that Amorim had registered as an assistant coach rather than as a head coach as he had not yet qualified for the top job.

The national league's commission of coaches has now charged Amorim with fraud, calling for him to be suspended for between one and six years.

Sporting described the situation as "one of the most regrettable and surreal episodes in the history of Portuguese football", saying Amorim had followed the rules and adding there was "no legal basis" for him to be suspended.

A Sporting spokesman said the national football federation will hear the case and decide whether or not Amorim should be sanctioned but did not say when a decision would be made.

A former Portugal international, 36-year-old Amorim had worked as a top-flight coach for less than two months when Sporting prised him from Braga, where he had previously been the reserve team's coach.

After guiding the team to this year's League Cup, Amorim has set Sporting on course to win a first national championship since 2002.

His side top the standings with a 10-point lead over nearest challengers Porto with 12 matches remaining.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony in Lisbon, writing by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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