Saturday, December 17, 2011

FIFA Turns Advantage into Offense

FIFA, fresh off legal victories of FC Sion at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and in an appeal in the Swiss judicial system, has now gone on the offensive:
FIFA have threatened to expel Switzerland from football if they fail to enforce a transfer ban on Sion by January 13.

The Swiss club were put under a transfer embargo over the signing of Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, but proceeded to sign six players in the summer.

Sion then fielded five of the six players during the Europa League play-off tie against Celtic earlier this year and were kicked out of the competition as a result, with UEFA's decision to expel them upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier this week.

FIFA have now ordered the Swiss Football Association to sanction Sion or risk Switzerland being excluded from all football - which would mean Basel missing out on taking part in the Champions League last 16 and the national team missing out on an encounter with Argentina in February.
The FIFA offensive apparently represents a turnabout of perspective:
In September Fifa president Sepp Blatter gave an assurance that the Swiss national team would not be affected by the Sion affair “whatever happens”.
There is also a twist:
Manchester United could see their Champions League place restored after Fifa warned the Swiss FA that their domestic sides could be banned from European competition following the row over Sion's Europa League participation.

Basel, who qualified ahead of United, could face expulsion from the competition if the Swiss FA do not follow Fifa's instructions in relation to a ban imposed on Sion by the January 13.

If Basel are disqualified, one option would see Sir Alex Ferguson's side return to the tournament, however it is also possible that the Swiss side's last-16 opponents, Bayern Munich, could be given a bye.
The next chapter in this saga will be written on January 11th when a Swiss court hears whether FC Sion should be reinstated into the Europa League:
“Sion will wait for another decision from the Civil Court of Vaud on January 11 against the two forfeits of the games Celtic v Sion and Sion v Celtic, with a view to reintegrating the club in the last 32 [of the Europa League]”
FIFA's raising of the stakes puts more pressure on FC Sion to drop the case should they lose this case, but they may choose to go the distance -- all the way to the ECJ.


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