Fenerbahce, Besiktas to play in Europe comps

ECE TOKSABAY
Last updated 04:34 19/07/2013

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Fenerbahce and Besiktas will be included in the draws for the Champions and Europa League tomorrow after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) temporarily lifted UEFA bans for their involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

The Turkish clubs were banned last month after a protracted UEFA inquiry following the scandal in 2011. European football's governing body banned Fenerbahce for two years and Besiktas one.

In a statement today, the Lausanne-based court said the decisions taken by UEFA "have been stayed and will not be enforced until CAS issues its final decision in each matter."

That clears the way for both to be included in Friday's draw for the third qualifying rounds of their competitions and also, if they qualify, to be included in the draws for the final playoff rounds on August 9

However, even if both teams come through those preliminary rounds, they may still be banned from the group stages.

CAS said the final decision on Fenerbahce will be issued before August 28 and a final decision on Besiktas on August 30. The draws for the group stages of the two competitions take place in Monaco on August 29 (Champions League) and August 30 (Europa League).

UEFA said in a statement it "acknowledges the decisions on provisional measures" issued by CAS, "until a final decision is taken on both of these appeals."

UEFA also confirmed both clubs would be included in the draws tomorrow, while Fenerbahce chairman Aziz Yildirim, who was sentenced to a jail term as a result of the match-fixing before being released on appeal, was quick to respond.

"Fenerbahce soccer team will attend the Champions League draws on Friday and continue on its path," he told the club's official television channel after hearing the news.

PUNISHMENTS RE-EXAMINED

The two clubs asked UEFA in June to re-examine their punishments and in both cases the governing body decided to uphold the sanctions.

Fenerbahce, who won the 2010-11 title, were withdrawn from the following season's Champions League by the Turkish Football Federation as a result of their investigations into the widespread match-fixing allegations that rocked the Turkish game at the time.

However, they were allowed to compete last season pending a final decision from UEFA.

They came through the third qualifying round but were beaten by Spartak Moscow in the playoff round and missed out on the lucrative group stage of the competition.

Fenerbahce were implicated in the scandal with suspicions raised over their 4-3 victory over Sivasspor which clinched the league championship on the final day of the season in 2011.

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Besiktas were implicated as a result of their involvement in the 2011 Turkish Cup final which they won on penalties after a 2-2 draw against Buyuksehir Belediyespor.

Last July, a Turkish court convicted 93 defendants, including Yildirim, club executives and players, in connection with the case.

Yildirim was sentenced to more than six years in prison but was released from custody after launching an appeal, which is still proceeding.

- Reuters

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