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Profile: Union of European Football Associations
Union of European Football Associations was a participant or observer in the following events:
Former France and Juventus player Michel Platini (see 1982) is elected head of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), defeating the incumbent Lennart Johansson. Platini wins in the first round of voting, just obtaining an absolute majority from the 52 national associations that voted in a secret ballot. Johansson had been president for 16 years. One of Platini’s main goals, with which Johansson disagreed, was to limit the number of Champions League places to a maximum of three per country, rather than four, starting in 2009. Only England, Spain, and Italy currently have four Champions League places, so the move would hit them, and potentially benefit voters from all the other countries. In addition, Platini wants a cost control measure that limits clubs’ playing staff salary costs to “something like 50-60 percent of turnover,” as well as to combat racism and fraud, develop UEFA’s competitions, and gain recognition of football’s special status in European law. [BBC, 1/26/2007]
UEFA approves several changes to the Champions League and other competitions it runs.
The final of the Champions League will take place on a Saturday, instead of a Wednesday, from 2010. UEFA justifies the change by saying more children will be able to see the game. “I also hope that playing the UEFA Champions League final on a Saturday will give families, especially children, the chance to see the game,” says UEFA president Michel Platini. [BBC, 11/30/2007] The change of game day also means that the match, which is played in the late evening in Europe, is at a much more attractive time for the US market—2:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Saturday. This means that the game will become one of only a few such club football games ever shown live on US network television. [FoxSoccer, 5/17/2010] The cheapest child ticket for the 2011 Champions League final will be £113, will have to be purchased together with an adult ticket costing £225, and will be subject to a £26 “administration fee” (see February 17, 2011).
Qualification for the Champions League is altered, making it harder for a fourth team from the three leading countries to qualify, to the benefit of smaller countries.
The group stage in UEFA’s second most important club competition, the UEFA Cup, is altered, and there will now be 12 groups of four teams before the knockout stages.
UEFA’s third-string competition, the Intertoto Cup, is abolished. [BBC, 11/30/2007]
UEFA’s control and disciplinary body rules that the Portuguese champions FC Porto will not be admitted to the Champions League next season, due to allegations of bribery of referees in Portuguese domestic matches in 2003/04. In two cases, the Portuguese champions were recently deducted a total of six points and fined €150,000 by the Portuguese league’s disciplinary committee. Under UEFA rules, clubs may not be involved in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level, otherwise they will not be allowed into European competition. [UEFA, 6/4/2008]
UEFA president Michel Platini (see January 26, 2007) addresses the European Parliament in Brussels and outlines his program as head of the governing body of the continent’s most popular sport. Platini advocates the idea of financial fair play, which he says will lead to competitive balance in European competitions. He also insists that football should not be treated as an economic activity, and that the sport’s specific nature should be recognised officially. Furthermore, the UEFA president calls, among other things, for a ban on the movement abroad of people who play football but are under the age of 18. Regarding the specific nature of football, Platini argues that certain laws governing the rest of society should not apply to the game because such application is based on “the false equation that professional sport equals a purely economic activity.” [UEFA, 2/22/2009]
UEFA bans the Spanish football club Real Mallorca from European competition because it is not in compliance with its financial regulations. Mallorca has had a successful season and qualified for the Europa League, but went into administration in May (see (May 19, 2010)). Villareal is set to take Mallorca’s place in the competition if an appeal is unsuccessful. [Sport Business, 7/23/2010]
Real Mallorca appeals to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to reverse a recent decision banning the club from next season’s Europa League. The club was banned from European competition (see (July 22, 2010)) because it is currently in administration and not in compliance with UEFA’s financial guidelines (see (May 19, 2010)). At the same time as the appeal, Mallorca issues a statement pointing out that the ban will make its financial situation worse, as it would deprive the club “of a series of revenue in different concepts, such as ticketing, sponsorship, and income from the competition.” It adds, “Ethically and legally, RCD Mallorca believes reason is on their side and [the club] will not relent in the effort to show that he has earned the right to challenge the Europa League.” [Goal, 7/26/2010]
UEFA upholds a decision banning Spanish football team Real Mallorca from European competition (see (May 19, 2010), (July 22, 2010), and July 26, 2010). “At its meeting on July 14, 2010, the club financial control panel unanimously concluded that the licence had not been correctly awarded to RCD Mallorca and that the club did not sufficiently fulfil its financial obligations,” says UEFA of the reason for the ban. Mallorca indicates that it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [AFP, 7/30/2010]
UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti thinks Champions League final tickets are not overpriced. [Source: Getty Images] (click image to enlarge)UEFA announces the prices for the 2011 Champions League final, to be held in May at Wembley Stadium in London. Tickets will go on sale at £300, £225, £150, and £80, plus a £26 charge described as an “administration fee.” This represents a substantial increase over previous years. For example, just two years ago the £150 category three tickets cost only £80. The Champions League final was recently moved to Saturday, allegedly so that more children could attend (see November 30, 2007). However, only 500 discounted tickets are made available to children; they cost £113, have to be purchased with an adult ticket costing £225, and also incur the “administration fee,” giving a total cost of £364.
UEFA Justification - UEFA’s director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti insists the prices are based on the market rate and compare with those for the World Cup final. “The prices are based on the type of event and when you compare it to other events we don’t think that the Champions League final is overpriced,” he says. “This is the market price. Do you think we would have trouble filling Wembley if the prices were higher? Do you think it would be different? We try to strike a balance between the interest of supporters and the interest of the event. Why should we price the tickets lower than what we think is a fair level?”
'A Pretty Disgusting Cake' - However, the prices meet with disapproval from the media and fans. “These prices are absolutely outrageous and take ticket pricing to an absurdly stratospheric new level,” says Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters Federation. “In a difficult economic climate, not only in this country but across Europe, where supporters may be coming from, this represents disgraceful exploitation of fans.” He adds: “To ask fans to fork out between £150 and £300 for a single match ticket is outrageous and strikes as profiteering at the supporters’ expense. That’s before we even get started on the £26 administration fee which is the cherry on top of a pretty disgusting cake. UEFA should be ashamed of themselves and there is no way of justifying such a high fee. It is totally unacceptable whatever country the supporters are from but it will be particularly harsh on fans coming from abroad who have to add travel costs.” [Guardian, 2/18/2011]
Two UEFA officials, president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino, say that the Swiss club FC Sion clearly breached a transfer ban imposed on it and that the club should not resort to civil courts. Sion used players signed while it was operating under the ban (see April 16, 2009) to win a Europa League playoff (see August 25, 2011). However, their opponents Celtic have now appealed to UEFA to overturn the result. Platini says that the players were fielded “in clear violation of the ban,” adding, “FC Sion has not respected the rules of the transfer ban—they signed players and then played those players.” Infantino says the case will be dealt with in house. “The civil court ruling does not affect UEFA,” he says. “We will look at our rules and the FIFA rules. There is a ruling by FIFA, [the Court of Arbitration for Sport] have ruled, it went to the Swiss supreme court, and everything was confirmed but it has been challenged again.” Infantino also sets out the key point of the dispute, saying, “It is an interpretation question which is complicated—whether a two transfer-window ban means two transfer windows or parts of several transfer windows.” [Press Association (London), 8/26/2011]
UEFA throws the Swiss Club FC Sion out of the Europa League for fielding ineligble players. The players were ineligible because they were signed during a transfer ban imposed on the club (see Summer 2011) as punishment for rule-breaking (see April 16, 2009). The players played in a two-legged playoff tie with Celtic, and UEFA now awards each leg to the Scottish club 3-0. [UEFA, 9/2/2011] Sion will appeal the ruling, but the decision will stand (see September 13, 2011).
A Swiss court, the Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud, orders that the club FC Sion be reinstated in the Europa League. UEFA recently threw Sion out of the league in a dispute over player eligibility (see September 2, 2011). UEFA is not represented at the court hearing. [UEFA, 9/13/2011] Later the same day, UEFA’s appeal body confirms Sion’s ejection (see September 13, 2011), and UEFA’s emergency panel decides to ignore the court order (see Afternoon, September 13, 2011).
UEFA rejects an appeal from FC Sion over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League (see September 2, 2011). The ruling means that Celtic, which Sion defeated in a playoff, goes forward to the group stage of the competition. Sion can file an appeal against the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [UEFA, 9/13/2011] Earlier in the day, a Swiss court had ruled that FC Sion should be readmitted to the competition (see Morning, September 13, 2011), although UEFA’s emergency panel soon decides to ignore the court order and keep Sion out of the competition (see Afternoon, September 13, 2011).
Following a Swiss court order that FC Sion be reinstated in the Europa League (see Morning, September 13, 2011) and a UEFA appeal body ruling that confirmed the club’s ejection (see September 13, 2011), UEFA’s five-member emergency panel, including president Michel Platini, meets to discuss what to do. It decides to ignore the court order and continue to include Celtic in the competition at Sion’s expense. UEFA issues a statement explaining its reasoning for ignoring the order: the court only heard Sion representatives, not UEFA, and one of the grounds for the court’s ruling was erroneous—UEFA’s appeal body reviewed the decision shortly after the court order was issued, whereas the court thought it would not do so until after the Europa League group stage started on 15 September. “I am a strong believer and deeply attached to the protection of football and fairness of the game,” says Platini after the meeting. “I am happy that football disciplinary bodies are sanctioning clubs who are using their influence and wealth to induce players to breach their contracts. This is against all rules of sporting fairness. This is ultimately about protecting clubs, the players and football itself.” He adds: “We have clear rules and regulations that all clubs know before they enter our competitions. We cannot accept that if one individual club does not get its own way then it goes through any possible system to force its will on the others. Two independent disciplinary bodies have ruled on this issue and we must abide by their decisions.” [UEFA, 9/13/2011]
UEFA’s 53 member associations issue a declaration of support on the way the body’s leaders have handled the FC Sion affair. According to a statement released by UEFA, the 53 associations declare “unanimous support” for both “the governing body’s determination to uphold the statutes and regulations of football in the case of FC Sion,” and also specific persons and bodies prominent in the dispute, “UEFA president Michel Platini, the UEFA executive committee, the UEFA general secretary [Gianni Infantino], the UEFA disciplinary bodies, and the UEFA administration.” In addition, the member associations urge UEFA to take “concrete steps to uphold the statutes and regulations of FIFA, as UEFA has done,” because an “independent sports justice system is the best guarantor of equality and fairness for all participants in sports.” [UEFA, 9/21/2011]
UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino are ordered to attend an interview with a Swiss prosecutor in UEFA’s home canton of Vaud over the FC Sion affair. The move comes after UEFA ignored a civil court ruling that the Swiss club should be reinstated in the Europa League, which led Sion to file a criminal complaint. UEFA issues a statement saying it is “happy that Michel Platini should go and meet the Vaud prosecutor and explain UEFA’s position.” [Associated Press, 9/23/2011] The interview will take place in the middle of October (see October 19, 2011).
A Swiss court again finds in favour of FC Sion in its dispute with UEFA over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League. The Civil Court of the Canton of Vaud instructs UEFA to reinstate the club in the Europa League and orders that UEFA pay the maximum fine of 1,000 Swiss francs for each day of non-compliance. The judge says that UEFA’s actions are unfair and that it appears not to have followed its own rules in the case. [FC Sion, 10/5/2006]
UEFA’s executive committee unanimously decides to ignore a court order to reinstate the Swiss club FC Sion in the Europa League (see October 5, 2011). The decision is taken at an extraordinary meeting to discuss the case, although the meeting is not attended by UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino, who are to appear before a prosecutor in the case (see September 23, 2011). Neither is it attended by Peter Gilliéron, a committee member and also president of the Swiss Football Association. Instead of complying with the ruling, the committee decides to wait for the outcome of another court hearing in the dispute, this time before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The committee justifies its refusal to comply by saying that it lacks the power to reinstate the club—Sion was ejected by UEFA’s disciplinary bodies and these are independent of the organization’s executive. UEFA issues a statement saying it is therefore “constitutionally unable to apply to the letter of the super provisional and provisional measures decided by the civil court.” [UEFA, 10/11/2011]
UEFA President Michel Platini gives a wide-ranging interview to the German publication Der Spiegel on a number of topics. On the FC Sion affair, in which UEFA has decided to deliberately ignore a court order reinstating Sion in the Europa League, Platini is asked, “How is it that you can simply ignore a court’s ruling?” He replies: “The prosecutor will pose that question to me on October 19 (see September 23, 2011 and October 19, 2011). I can’t talk about it now.” He also talks about how he sees the significance of the dispute: “It would be a catastrophe for the sport if everyone could go to court at any time. Imagine if a player got a red card and found a judge who said: ‘The referee and the football association are preventing him from performing his job.’ A ban on working! We could all just call it quits… If a court decision finds that the six ineligible players should have been allowed to play, it would be a disaster, the end of football.” On the topic of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules Platini says the aim is to “introduce some fairness,” but does not know whether it will benefit German clubs specifically. Asked about the absence of specific penalties in the regulations, Platini replies, “It’s not about killing the clubs; we want to help them. There is a range of possible sanctions, including monetary fines, a ban on signing new players and the exclusion from competitions.” Platini also says that he has been sure for the last two months that the 2012 European Championships will be in Poland and Ukraine, as planned. Previously, there was a risk part of the tournament would be taken away from Ukraine and played in Germany. Finally, he refuses to confirm he will succeed Joseph Blatter as FIFA president in 2015. [Der Spiegel (Hamburg), 10/14/2011]
The Court of Arbitration for Sport decides some procedural issues in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League (see September 2, 2011 and September 26, 2011). The court confirms its competence to decide the merits of the case, dismisses a request by FC Sion for a stay of proceedings, and confirms the nomination of the arbitrator originally chosen by FC Sion. In addition, the court’s statement sent to the parties twice states that FC Sion is committing “clear abuse of [court] procedures” through its attempts at legal maneuvering. [UEFA, 10/15/2011]
UEFA explains the ways in which the Swiss club FC Sion could be reintegrated into the 2011-2012 Europa League to the Swiss court Tribunal Contonal de Vaud, following a court order it do so. Sion could be reintegrated into Group I as a fifth team and either eight additional fixtures would be played, or all previous results would be ignored and the group would start again with teams only playing each other once. Alternatively, Sion would simply join the competition in the next round. [UEFA, 10/17/2011] Sion will lose the legal battle and will not be reinstated (see December 15, 2011).
The Swiss judicial body Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud rejects an application by the Swiss club FC Sion that it order UEFA to immediately reinstate the club in the 2011-2012 Europa League. In particular, the court rejects the request that UEFA be ordered to enable Sion to play the French team Stade Rennais in the next round of fixtures instead of Celtic. Sion defeated Celtic in a playoff, but were then thrown out of the competition for fielding ineligible players and the Scottish team invited back in (see September 2, 2011). [UEFA, 10/18/2011]
A Swiss prosecutor interviews UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino over the FC Sion case. UEFA threw Sion out of the Europa League for breaching a transfer ban (see September 2, 2011), but this led to a legal dispute and Sion filed a criminal complaint against UEFA, which is the reason for the interview (see September 23, 2011). [UEFA, 10/19/2011; Agence France-Presse, 10/19/2011] Details of what is said in the interview are unknown.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport sets the date of the hearing in the Europa League dispute between UEFA and the Swiss Club FC Sion for November 24. UEFA ejected Sion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011) and since then there has been a series of legal disputes between the parties (see September 26, 2011 and October 14, 2011). The date is conditional on it being approved by the two parties. [UEFA, 10/25/2011] The court will rule in December, mostly in favour of UEFA (see December 15, 2011).
UEFA president Michel Platini criticizes the Swiss club FC Sion for involving civil courts in a dispute between it and the football authorities over a transfer ban (see August 3, 2011 and October 17, 2011). “If tomorrow you receive a red card on the pitch and you go to a judge because you cannot play in the next match, and the judge says you are right, what can we do?” Platini tells the French broadcaster RTL. “Everything must depend on the [Court of Arbitration for Sport]. Today, we have in principle an independent disciplinary process in the federations, in UEFA, in FIFA. If nobody respects its decisions and goes before civil courts, now that justice today moves slowly, I ask myself how this could happen. What do we do if a club relegated to the second division go to a court because they have a first division budget and want to stay there?” The Court of Arbitration for Sport has just set a date for a hearing in the case. [Press Association (London), 10/25/2011]
The Swiss club FC Sion complains to that country’s Competition Competition about the behavior of UEFA. Sion and UEFA are involved in a legal dispute over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011) and Sion now argues that UEFA is abusing a dominant position. [UEFA, 2/7/2011] The commission will take no action against UEFA (see February 7, 2012).
The key hearing in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion over the latter’s ejection from the Europa League is held before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The hearing follows a long dispute between UEFA and the club (see September 2, 2011). [UEFA, 12/15/2011] The court will mostly rule in favor of UEFA (see December 15, 2011).
The Court of Arbitration for Sport issues a ruling in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion that is largely favorable to the Europan governing body. The court finds that UEFA is not under a duty to reintegrate Sion into the 2011-2012 Europa League, a competition from which it had been banned for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011). However, the court does not rule in favor of UEFA on some other matters. For example, it refuses to declare that UEFA regulations and disciplinary measures are not in conflict with Swiss law. Sion is ordered to pay two thirds of the costs of proceedings—with UEFA making up the other one third—and also to make a contribution to UEFA’s legal costs. [CAS 2011/O/2574 UEFA v. Olympique des Alpes SA/FC Sion: Arbitral Award, 12/15/2011 ]
The Swiss Competition Commission decides to take no action against UEFA following a complaint made by the club FC Sion. UEFA and Sion have been in dispute for some time over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011), and the club filed a complaint with the commission in October (see October 27, 2011). UEFA now issues a statement saying the commission has said it will take no action on the complaint. According to UEFA, this decision confirms “that UEFA has not violated the rules of free competition and that the decisions of its disciplinary bodies represent neither an abuse of a dominant position nor an obstacle to free competition.” [UEFA, 2/7/2011]
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