Maccabi Tel Aviv's Maharan Radi 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv was gifted a place in the Europa League group stage on
Wednesday, benefiting from the consequences of a match-fixing scandal in Ukraine
from April 2008.
Metalist Kharkiv, which was due to play Schalke 04 in
the Champions League playoff round next week, was kicked out of the competition
by UEFA’s appeals committee on Wednesday after the Ukraine Football Federation
found it guilty of manipulating a match played more than five years
As a result, last year’s Ukrainian league runner-up will be replaced
by Maccabi’s would-be opponent in the Europa League playoffs – Greek side PAOK
Thessaloniki – the team Kharkiv beat in the Champions League third qualifying
round, meaning Tel Aviv will advance to the group stage without having to come
through the playoffs.
Metalist said it would appeal to the Court of
Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and a ruling in its favor, which may not come until
after the group stage has started, could throw the Champions League and Europa
League into confusion.
Earlier this month, CAS upheld a Ukraine Football
Federation decision to fine Kharkiv and FC Karpaty $25,000 each over the
The tribunal also confirmed bans of between three
and five years on six Metalist players, plus fines of $10,000
Metalist director Yevhen Krasnikov was banned from any soccer-
related activity for five years.
CAS said in its ruling that the two
clubs “were held liable for the behavior of their football players or officials
under the principle of strict liability.”
Assuming Kharkiv’s appeal is
rejected, Maccabi will begin its group campaign on September 19, with the draw
to take place in Monaco on August 30.
Reuters contributed to this report.