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Legia Warsaw lose appeal, Celtic to play in UEFA Champions League play-off


Polish side Legia Warsaw have lost their appeal with UEFA after being forced to forfeit their Champions League place for playing a suspended player against Celtic.

Celtic are due to play Maribor on Wednesday in the first of their two-legged play-off for a place in the group stages of the Champions League. However, Legia can now try one final time to appeal the ban by going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), as a verdict would have to be reached before next Wednesday.

On Thursday UEFA ruled that its panel will uphold the decision to hand Celtic a 3-0 victory in the second leg over Legia, which the Polish side won 2-0. Overall Legia beat Celtic 6-1 on aggregate in the third-round qualifier, but due to that second leg result being amended, the scores were locked at 4-4 and Celtic went through on the away goals rule.

The man behind all of this is Bartosz Bereszynski, who came on as a substitute for the final few minutes of the second leg but he was technically already serving a three-game suspension from Legia’s Europa League campaign in the previous season.

UEFA rules aren’t too clear on the punishment for fielding an ineligible player and in 2010 Debrecen were allowed to advance in the Europa League despite fielding a player who was suspended.

Legia have asked Celtic for talks to discuss the issue and want the Scottish champions to stand down and give up their place in the Champions League. Would anybody really do that? Despite getting thumped 6-1 and outplayed, Celtic are now two games away from qualifying for the UCL group stages and grabbing the  massive cash windfall that comes with that.

Appealing to the CAS is Legia’s last hope and after UEFA rejected their appeal, getting reinstated to the Champions League seems like a long shot.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia