AVB escapes with fine for ACL blast

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Andre Villas-Boas.

Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas escaped a touchline ban and was instead fined US$14,000 yesterday over his "offensive" comments during the AFC Champions League quarterfinals, the Asian Football Confederation said.

The Portuguese brought the game into disrepute, the AFC ruled, but stopped short of banning him for today's semifinal first leg at home against the Urawa Red Diamonds.

The former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager made a series of stinging criticisms about the AFC and the referee following a thrilling quarterfinal return leg at Guangzhou Evergrande earlier this month.

Villas-Boas also accused the home side of staging a series of minor car accidents on the way to the match at the two-time ACL winner to delay the Shanghai team bus.

Evergrande has declined to comment on the allegation, but the AFC said in a statement that its disciplinary and ethics committee had decided to fine him "for his offensive words at the referee and comments made at the post-match press conference".

"The fine of US$14,000 is for a first-time violation and a repeat infringement will lead to a more severe punishment," it warned.

Evergrande won 5-1 on the night, making it 5-5 on aggregate, before Villas-Boas' side shaded it 5-4 on penalties to set up a last-four showdown with Urawa.

But Villas-Boas, banned for two games by the Chinese Football Association earlier this season over a social media post, was furious at a series of perceived injustices.

As well as sending off two SIPG players in extra time, Iranian referee Alireza Faghani also booked its goalkeeper Yan Junling during the penalty shootout, which will rule him out of the first leg of the semifinal.

"It's a disgrace," Villas-Boas repeated of the yellow card, while also saying that Evergrande "is dominating the AFC because this club can do everything".

Villas-Boas was in a better mood on the eve of today's clash with the Japanese side.

"We've come a long way to get to this position and played and beaten four teams that have won the Asian Champions League," he told a press conference.

"This is a good, positive sign for us and we hope tomorrow to show our strength in this competition knowing that when you reach this stage anything can happen."

The return meeting will be staged at Shanghai Stadium on October 18, with the winner facing either Iran's Persepolis or al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia in the final in November.

The AFC separately fined Guangzhou US$15,000 after the club "failed to attend and fully participate in an official event" during the first leg in Shanghai.

It was not immediately clear what event the AFC was referring to.

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