Fans vote Rui Costa into Benfica presidency

October 11 – Rui Costa is the new president of Benfica, winning the election this weekend with a landslide. In his victory speech, the former Portugal midfielder who played 121 times for Benfica, promised a new dawn for the club. 

In July, Costa (pictured) took over as interim chair from Luís Filipe Vieira, who resigned from the club following his house arrest in an investigation for alleged money laundering. On Saturday Costa position was made permanent when he defeated his opponent Francisco Benitez with 84,48%, giving him a four-year term that will run through to 2024

“I succeed Luís Filipe Vieira, whose work of recovery and consolidation of Benfica over 18 years deserves the best of recognition,” said Costa.

“But, tomorrow, a new cycle begins, with redoubled ambition in the future. For that, we must unite ourselves to be even stronger, respecting diversity, but united in action, because the cause that unites us is the glorious Sport Lisboa e Benfica.”

Costa served as a sporting director and then vice president under Vieira, who led the club for 18 years before his acrimonious exit. Vieira is a prime suspect in Operation Red Card and is accused of fraud, forgery, tax evasion and money laundering.

Fans demanded that the entire board resign, but they have now shown faith in the former Portuguese international, with the vast majority of a record number of  40,085 voters backing Costa.

“It’s the hardest game of my life,” said Costa. “I take on the biggest responsibility of my life. I know the responsibility I have on my shoulders.”

Costa played from 1991 to 1994 and from 2006-2008 for Benfica.