Mac TA gets lucky, into group stage

Tel Aviv gifted spot in Europa League group stage after Metalist Kharkiv kicked out of the competition in match-fixing scandal.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Maharan Radi 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
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 ago.
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 match-fixing scandal.
The tribunal also confirmed bans of between three and five years on six Metalist players, plus fines of $10,000 each.
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.