FC Sion claims new legal victory over UEFA

Friday 16 Sep 2011

FC Sion claimed Friday it won a court injunction against UEFA that invalidates Europa League victories for Atletico Madrid and Udinese.


Sion said the ruling in UEFA’s home canton (state) of Vaud means Thursday’s results and the group standings are invalid if the Swiss club is excluded.

Atletico won 2-0 against Celtic—which was reinstated to the competition after UEFA kicked out Sion—and Udinese beat Rennes 2-1.

“Without FC Sion, the court will not authorize the validation of results in Group I of the Europa League,” the club said in a statement.

UEFA said it was not represented in court, and had no comment on Sion’s latest legal action.

European football’s governing body and its member federation in Switzerland are bound by FIFA’s world football statutes which forbid clubs going to civil courts to settle disputes.

Sion has challenged UEFA on several fronts since being expelled from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players when beating Celtic in the playoff round last month.

“Sion fights against the injustice of which I am a victim, and will fight to the end,” club president Christian Constantin said.

The same Vaud court awarded Sion a provisional ruling on Tuesday which said UEFA should restore the club to the competition.

Four hours later, UEFA’s appeals panel dismissed Sion’s request to get back in. That ruling upheld Celtic’s formal protest that Sion had selected five players in their playoff last month who were signed in the offseason in breach of a FIFA transfer ban. Sion won 3-1 on aggregate.

UEFA President Michel Platini then chaired an emergency meeting that insisted Celtic must be reinstated in the interests of “sporting fairness.”

Sion has pledged to challenge the UEFA appeal ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which could also consider the club’s claim for ?5 million ($6.9 million) in compensation.

Constantin has asked Vaud prosecutors to launch a criminal probe against UEFA for ignoring a civil court.

He also wrote to Swiss lawmakers on Wednesday demanding that they remove tax-break privileges enjoyed by UEFA and FIFA.

UEFA finally gets an opportunity to face Sion lawyers in the Vaud court on Sept. 27, at a scheduled full hearing to consider Tuesday’s provisional measure.

The next round of Group I matches is Sept. 29. Celtic is scheduled to host Udinese, and Atletico travels to Rennes.

The dispute started in 2008 when Sion broke FIFA transfer rules by signing goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary midseason while he was under contract to Egyptian club Al-Ahly.

FIFA’s decision to impose a one-year transfer ban was upheld by CAS and the Swiss supreme court.

Sion contends that it served the ban cumulatively and should have been allowed to register players signed this summer.

Sion is preparing for another CAS appeal against the Swiss Football League over blocked player registrations.

Swiss clubs have filed protests after each match this season when Sion has fielded its apparently ineligible players.

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