Fenerbahce and Besiktas given European bans

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Today was a sour day for Turkish clubs, as UEFA announced that both Fenerbahce and Besiktas have been banned from European competition for match-fixing.

Fenerbahce were the hardest hit, as they will be banned from next season’s Champions League over the match-fixing charge, they have also been banned from European soccer for three seasons. However the third season in which they qualify is deferred for a probationary period of five years.

Meanwhile Besiktas have also been handed a suspension by UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body (CDB), and will not compete in the Europa League next season. However that is the full extent of their ban.

The charges come after match-fixing occurred in Turkish league games way back in 2011, and Fenerbahce have already been banned from European competition once for that scandal. But despite being banned from the 2011-12 Champions League campaign, the Istanbul side now face a further two to three seasons away from Europe’s elite club competition.

Both clubs can appeal their bans to the UEFA Appeals Body. While Romanian side Steaua Bucharest have also been banned for one year but that has been deferred for a probationary period of five years.

So with European and world soccer working so hard to clean up match-fixing, this ban acts to highlight it is still around.

Fenerbahce may appeal after they’ve already been banned from European competition once before, however I really can’t see UEFA changing their stance on this one.

It is something that needs to be eradicated from the game ASAP. So I salute the three-year ban handed out to the Istanbul side. Financially that will be hugely out of pocket and they will be forced to change plenty of the personnel who have featured in their downfall.

What other measures can be brought in to stop match-fixing? Answer on a postcard please. But for now all we have is UEFA and I have to take my hat off to them, swift and lengthy punishments will hopefully help this terrible parasite leave the beautiful game.

EURO 2016: Who’s headed to France?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 10: Volkan Sen of Turkey in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group A Qualifier match between Czech Republic and Turkey at Letna Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.

The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.

Group A

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Iceland
  3. Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)

Group B

  1. Belgium
  2. Wales
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)

Group C

  1. Spain
  2. Slovakia
  3. Ukraine (qualified for play-off)

Group D

  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)

Group E

  1. England
  2. Switzerland
  3. Slovenia (qualified for play-off)

Group F

  1. Northern Ireland
  2. Romania
  3. Hungary (qualified for play-off)

Group G

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. Sweden (qualified for play-off)

Group H

  1. Italy
  2. Croatia
  3. Norway (qualified for play-off)

Group I

  1. Portugal
  2. Albania
  3. Denmark (qualified for play-off)

EURO 2016: Dutch disaster as Netherlands fail to qualify

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13:  Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.

Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic

The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.

[ RELATED: David de Gea fighting for starting goalkeeper position with Spain ]

Italy 2-1 Norway

Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.

Malta 0-1 Croatia

With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.

Elsewhere in EURO qualifying

Group A

Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan

Group B

Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group H

Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan