Emergency Panel confirms Celtic in Europa League

UEFA's Emergency Panel confirms the participation of Celtic FC, and not FC Sion, in the UEFA Europa League, thereby abiding by the decisions of two independent disciplinary bodies.

The UEFA Emergency Panel met to discuss the Sion case
The UEFA Emergency Panel met to discuss the Sion case ©UEFA.com

The UEFA Emergency Panel, which is made up of five members of the UEFA Executive Committee including the UEFA President, held an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the court order obtained this morning by FC Sion/Olympique des Alpes SA from the Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud, requesting that UEFA readmits FC Sion to the UEFA Europa League group stage.

Having considered all the facts and the disciplinary decisions that have been rendered twice now on this case, the UEFA Emergency Panel agreed to confirm the participation of Celtic FC, and not of Sion, in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League.

The "superprovisional" measures were ordered by the Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud without hearing UEFA and solely based on the arguments of Sion. The Court also thought, incorrectly, that the Appeals Body could not take its decision before the start of the UEFA Europa League group stage, on 15 September. However the UEFA Appeals Body met and rendered its decision as announced today, 13 September.

UEFA underlines the fact that its two independent disciplinary organs have established that Sion fielded several ineligible players in their play-off matches against Celtic. This was explicitly confirmed by FIFA, and that is why the club has been sanctioned with two forfeit defeats.

Like every other club in Europe, Sion had and still has every opportunity to use all possible sports arbitration mechanisms to challenge UEFA's disciplinary bodies' decisions. There is no reason why Sion should have special privileges compared with every other club in the UEFA Europa League to circumvent the rules that have been accepted and respected by every other club.

Speaking straight after this afternoon's meeting, UEFA President Michel Platini said: "I am a strong believer and deeply attached to the protection of football and fairness of the game. I am happy that football disciplinary bodies are sanctioning clubs who are using their influence and wealth to induce players to breach their contracts. This is against all rules of sporting fairness. This is ultimately about protecting clubs, the players and football itself.

"We have clear rules and regulations that all clubs know before they enter our competitions. We cannot accept that if one individual club does not get its own way then it goes through any possible system to force its will on the others. Two independent disciplinary bodies have ruled on this issue and we must abide by their decisions."