Ahead of the UEFA Champions League semifinal draw on Friday, UEFA released a statement reminding clubs of the ‘integrity of competition’.
That was in relation to Chelsea’s on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is currently playing for Atletico Madrid who the Blues could’ve faced in the final four of the UCL… And, as fate would have it, that’s exactly how it’s turned out.
Chelsea reportedly had a clause inserted into Courtois’ loan deal that stated Atletico must pay them $8.3 million if the clubs were ever to meet in the Champions League and the Madrid club wanted to play the 21-year-old Belgian ‘keeper against his parent club.
According to the following statement from UEFA the talented young goalkeeper, who has spent the past three seasons as a regular for Diego Simeone’s side, is able to play against Chelsea in the upcoming UCL semifinal and the clause would violate the ‘ sporting integrity’ of the competition.
In response to media reports referring to the situation of Club Atlético de Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, UEFA would like to reiterate its position. The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for UEFA.
Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match. It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned.
Furthermore, any attempt to enforce such a provision would be a clear violation of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations and would therefore be sanctioned accordingly.
This is certainly a tricky area to navigate, as in the past other players have been caught up in these loan confusions. Usually in the Premier League, a player will have a clause in his loan deal that states he cannot play against his parent team however with Chelsea putting a monetary fund on Courtios head, it has all got a bit messy. Plus there are no such restrictions involving players loan players playing against their parent club in the UCL.
During the 2013-14 Champions League we have already had s similar situation. When Celtic played Elfsborg in the qualifying rounds, their on-loan striker Mo Bangura was free to play against the Hoops but they felt he shouldn’t be playing against his parent club and expected Bangura to sit it out. However he was free to play, and indeed played against his parent club for the Swedish side.
It is thought Atletico will not play Courtis, both for the financial reasons of playing over $4 million per game, and due to the fact that they want to keep one of the best young goalkeepers in the game at Atletico on loan next season. So, it is in Atleti’s interests to not upset Chelsea, otherwise they could lose their start ‘keeper.
A complex and unique situation will be the main stroyline unfolding as Chelsea and Atletico Madrid prepare to square up.