KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO: European football officials could reorganise their disciplinary system to avert further confusion at their high-profile draws for the Champions and Europa League.
UEFA’s French president Michel Platini indicated here today, hours before the Europa League group stage draw, that suspension punishments might be delayed one year to protect the delicate choreography of the occasions.
This is of particular relevance, looking ahead, because next year will be the first when penalties may be imposed under the financial fair play system. That raises the prospect of a string of late appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The last month has been complicated enough as suspension punishments and appeals have bounced from UEFA’s disciplinary committee to appeals commission to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and back again.
Turkey’s Fenerbahce and Besiktas along with Metalist Kharkiv of Ukraine all kept the lawyers busy both within the European federation and world sport’s Lausanne-based supreme court for sport.
Platini said: “It was a tough summer, a bit complicated between disciplinary committee appeal procedures, CAS and all sorts of things. Clubs were playing, not playing then playing again. The legal department did not spent much time on the beach this summer, rather more in the courtroom.”
He conceded: “We could suspend a team for the following year instead of keeping it from starting in the current season. It is a political question. I have my views, Gianni Infantino [general secretary] has his view, the disciplinary commission people have their dissenting views.
“But it is bothersome when you have [these issues around] a draw and this is bad for UEFA’s image as well.”
UEFA would not lose any punitive powers by delaying sanctions though critics might find it objectionable that a guilty club may still collect many millions of euro from competing in Europe, effectively illicitly.
Infantino offered a reassurance that the long arm of football law could reach out to any and every club convicted by its national association of matchfixing.
Hence Italian clubs punished with points deductions or fines (as per Lazio most recently) may find themselves barred from European competition the next time they qualify, whether in one or two or three years.
Infantino said: “One of the tasks of our integrity officers is to feed UEFA with infomation so we are informed about what is happening in every country and then, depending on what happens in the future, UEFA will have to take decisions.
“Two years a Greek club, Olympiakos Volos, was suspended for one year after being sanctioned with a 10-point deduction and this had a consequence.”
UEFA can act retrospectively on any proven incidence of matchfixing dating back to April 27, 2007, when the disciplinary statutes were altered.
Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg still have an appeal outstanding in CAS against their own exclusion from the Champions League group draw.
Salzburg had been beaten in the qualifying round by Fenerbahce of Turkey who were expelled subsequently from all European competition because of a matchfixing case.