Football: Portuguese 'thugs' Canelas see player banned over four years for kneeing referee

Lisbon (AFP) - Striker Marco Goncalves, who plays for infamous Portuguese amateur club Canelas, was on Tuesday banned for over four years for kneeing a referee in the face.

"Marco Goncalves has been given a four years suspension for assaulting a referee, two months for insults and threats and three months for assaulting an opposition player," a spokesman for the Porto regional league told AFP.

Goncalves, 34, attacked the referee after being shown a red card during last month's game against Rio Tinto.

The referee fell to the ground with a broken nose, with images of the assault going viral on social media.

The club from the suburbs of Porto, have been branded "thugs" and "butchers" but have risen to the top of their amateur league after a string of default wins because opponents are too afraid to play them.

Their rivals prefer to pay a €750 (S$1,140) fine than risk their lives playing against the club.

Goncalves, whose huge biceps bulged under his tight t-shirt, joked last month about the club's bad reputation.

"This is the corridor of death for our adversaries," he said pointing to the dark tunnel that leads to Canelas' pitch.

The club field three members of the "Super Dragons" ultras, an infamous fan group of Portuguese giants FC Porto, including their team captain who goes by the nickname "Ape".

Other clubs in the fourth-tier amateur league are outraged at the tactics of the club but none have filed an official complaint yet.