KV Mechelen replaced in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League
Thursday, 18 July 2019
The UEFA administration will replace KV Mechelen from the 2019/20 UEL group stage in accordance with Article 4.08 of the UEFA Europa League Regulations.
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On 3 June 2019, within the UEFA admission process to the 2019/20 UEFA club competitions an investigation was conducted over the admission of the Belgian club KV Mechelen to the UEFA Europa League (UEL). Following the investigation carried out by the UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector and the subsequent admission proceedings, on 15 July 2019 the UEFA Appeals Body had decided to admit KV Mechelen into the 2019/2020 UEL, however, without prejudice to the potential reopening of the proceedings should further information arise in relation to the facts and/or merits of the case, which was also ongoing at national level.
Moreover, KV Mechelen was ordered to provide UEFA with all relevant information in relation to the Belgian Court of Arbitration for Sport (BAS) proceedings and/or any other national level proceedings on this matter that may have arised as of 12 July 2019, including but not limited to any further partial or full award that may be issued by the BAS and/or by any other national decision-making body on this matter.
On 17 July, the BAS confirmed the decision of the disciplinary bodies of the Belgian FA who had, inter alia, imposed a ban on KV Mechelen “from playing in the European Cup for one season if the club were to qualify”.
Following this decision of the BAS which was provided by KV Mechelen to UEFA on the same day, the UEFA Appeals Body decided today to re-open the admission proceedings, annul its decision taken on 15 July 2019 and subsequently close the proceedings. As a consequence, the UEFA administration will replace KV Mechelen from the 2019/20 UEL group stage in accordance with Article 4.08 of the UEFA Europe League Regulations (UELR).
The Appeals Body took note of the Belgian FA’s decision confirmed by the BAS and, in this respect, recalled that it falls under the exclusive competence of UEFA, as organiser, to decide on the admission to and exclusion of clubs from its competitions. Nevertheless, the Appeals Body in this case was comfortably satisfied that officials of KV Mechelen and, consequently, the club, were involved in an attempt to fix a match at the national level, and that such conduct falls under the scope of UELR.
Pursuant to Article 4.02 UELR, UEFA “can rely on, but is not bound by, a decision of a national or international sporting body, arbitral tribunal or state court”. Taking into account the current circumstances of the case, the seriousness of match-fixing and UEFA’s zero tolerance policy in these cases, as well as the fact that the Belgian FA had, following the BAS decision, withdrawn KV Mechelen from the official Entry Form to the 2019/20 UEFA club competitions, the Appeals Body acknowledged the decision of the Belgian FA (and, therefore, the BAS Decision) as having the effect of preventing KV Mechelen from participating in a UEFA club competition and thus decided to annul its decision of 15 July and close the proceedings in accordance with Article 4.02 UELR.