After an investigation into alleged match-fixing, Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv have been thrown out of the UEFA Champions League.
The Ukrainian Premier League champions will not feature in Europe’s elite club competition for the 2103-14 season, after making it to the play-off round and one match away from the Champions League group stages.
“The UEFA Appeals Body carefully analyzed the statements and documents submitted by the club, as well as the statements and documents submitted by the UEFA Disciplinary Inspector and reached the following decision: FC Metalist Kharkiv are disqualified from the 2013/14 UEFA competitions.”
Their UCL play-off first-leg match against Bundelisga side Schalke was set for next Wednesday, August 21. But now the UEFA Emergency Panel will hold a meeting later today to decide what will happen next.
What a mess.
This all started on August 6, when European soccer’s governing body announced they would be investigating match-fixing allegations against the club side from Eastern Ukraine, and now they’ve banished them from the most lucrative competition in world soccer.
But what will happen to the open spot now available?
The smart thing to do would be reinstating Greek side PAOK FC who lost to Kharkiv in the third-qualifying round. However, it’s likely that Metalist Kharkiv will be issuing an appeal to the European Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Does that sound familiar? It should. Because Turkish side Fenerbache are going through that whole process right now as they aim to play in the Champions League group stages this season. The Istanbul based club has come under similar allegations from UEFA and was banned from European soccer, however they’ve appealed to CAS and their case will be heard on August 28.
But there lies the problem. Fenerbache were drawn against English side Arsenal in the UCL play-off round and will have already played the first-leg of their match before their case is heard by CAS. They will find out their fate on either the day of their second-leg match, or the day before they play the Gunners.
Like I said, all very messy.
However, you have to hand it to UEFA for giving out incredibly hefty bans for any kind of match-fixing or improper conduct. It will likely cost these clubs around $45-50 million and that will make them think twice about doing it again.
That said, with two teams in the final stages of UEFA Champions League qualifying embroiled in match-fixing, it doesn’t do much to promote the image of European soccer.
UEFA is trying to clean things up but it could take some time. And it will certainly get cloudier as the weeks and months go by. Stand by, more news on this to come later today.