UEFA has urged clubs taking part in this season's UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League to show respect for the game and its values.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino reminded the clubs of their duties at the third qualifying round draws for both competitions at the House of European Football in Nyon on Friday.
Mr Infantino began by underlining the responsibility that comes with the privilege of a place in the UEFA Champions League. "I hope that you are proud of your achievement in reaching this magnificent competition," he said. "The UEFA Champions League is now considered quite simply to be the premier club competition in the world – consistently delivering great matches, magical moments and most, if not all, of the best players in the world, week in, week out to fans.
"In turn, this means you also have a duty to respect the competition and to respect the rules and regulations. Especially in these uncertain times with rumour and counter-rumour regarding match-fixing sweeping some of the domestic leagues in Europe. It is more important than ever to show respect – respect for the game, for each other, for the officials, for your opponents and, most importantly, for the fans. They are the lifeblood of our fantastic sport and without them we would indeed be lost."
The club representatives at each of today's draws heard the general secretary reiterate UEFA's zero tolerance policy towards those involved in illegal activities such as match-fixing and corruption. Mr Infantino said that anyone found guilty of such activities would face tough penalties from European football's governing body.
"Let me use this opportunity to once more remind you all how importantly we value respect here at UEFA," he told those gathered for the UEFA Europa League draw. "With new tougher disciplinary regulations recently approved by the UEFA Executive Committee in June, we will not hesitate to come down hard on any individual, or individuals, or clubs that are proven to be involved in any such illegal activities in connection with matches.
"Our policy is and remains one of zero tolerance towards any such illegal activity in our game," UEFA's general secretary concluded. "And we must all work together to make sure that this policy is upheld."
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