News 25th August 2015

Olympiacos ‘provisionally admitted’ to Champions League

Greek football champions Olympiacos have been allowed to enter the UEFA Champions League groups draw despite match-fixing allegations, UEFA have confirmed. UEFA told the Sports Integrity Initiative that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), sport’s highest court, had rejected an appeal by Panathinaikos, who challenged an earlier UEFA Appeals Body decision in June to admit Olympiacos to the Champions League.

Panathinaikos are another Greek football club who finished runners-up to Olympiacos in the Super League, the highest professional football league in Greece. Olympiacos, as champions of last season’s Super League, were directly entered into the group stage of the UEFA Champions League this season. Panathinaikos had to enter a play-off for qualification to the UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying round, two rounds before the group stage of the Champions League. Panathinaikos won the Super League play-off but were knocked out at the Champions League Third Qualifying round by Belgian side Club Brugge.

UEFA Champions League Regulation 4.01 rules teams ineligible to participate in the competition if they have been involved in ‘any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match’ since April 2007. Key figures within Olympiacos are currently the subject of an investigation into alleged corruption and match-fixing in Greek football, which saw the owner and Chairman of Olympiacos, Evangelos Marinakis, banned from football and released on bail in June, as reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative.

However, UEFA reportedly said that neither the Greek Football Federation (EPO) ‘nor the criminal courts in Athens have rendered any final decision against Mr Marinakis or the club.’

UEFA have informed the Sports Integrity Initiative that Appeals Body decisions are not made available on individual request and therefore the original June decision which was challenged by Panathinaikos is unavailable to be published.

UPDATE: The CAS have published a short statement on their website confirming that they have ‘rejected an appeal filed by the Greek football club Panathinaikos FC against the Union Européenne de Football Association (UEFA) and the Greek football club Olympiacos FC.’

The CAS said that, ‘following an investigation into reports of alleged match-fixing in the Greek Superleague [sic] in which the President of Olympiacos was implicated, on 17 June 2015 the UEFA Appeals Body provisionally admitted Olympiacos to the 2015/16 competition and suspended its disciplinary proceedings against the club pending the receipt of further information from the Greek authorities investigating the matter.

‘On 20 July 2015, Panathinaikos FC filed an appeal at the CAS requesting that Olympiacos FC be excluded from the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League.

‘An expedited procedure was put in place and a hearing was held at the CAS Court Office on 21 August 2015. On 24 August 2015, the CAS Panel issued its decision, without the grounds, to be notified later, dismissing Panathinaikos’ appeal.’

 

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