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UEFA removes Osasuna from European competition for decade-old match-fixing

GENEVA (AP) – Spanish club Osasuna was removed from the Europa Conference League yesterday by UEFA because former club officials were implicated in fixing matches a decade ago.

Osasuna said in a statement it will appeal the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

By finishing seventh in La Liga last season, Osasuna earned a place in the playoff round of the third-tier European club competition, needing to beat one opponent in August to advance to the group stage.

UEFA’s verdict lifts eighth-place Athletic Bilbao into the competition instead. A CAS ruling likely will be needed ahead of Athletic’s scheduled first-leg game on August 24.

Osasuna officials who are no longer with the club were implicated in fixing matches between 2012 and 2014.

Osasuna’s Lucas Torro falls next to Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde during the Copa del Rey football final at La Cartuja stadium in Seville, Spain. PHOTO: AP

However, UEFA’s competition rules state that teams implicated in fixing any game played since April 2007 can be removed from the next competition for which they qualify. Further disciplinary measures can follow.

Osasuna had not qualified for a UEFA competition since the 2006-07 season, when it reached the semifinals of the old UEFA Cup. The club from Pamplona could have expected to earn at least EUR6 million in UEFA prize money had the team advanced to the group stage of the Europa Conference League.

Osasuna suggested UEFA made an error by punishing the club and its current officials who had denounced corruption by a previous generation.

The lineup for the Europa Conference League playoff round faces further uncertainty because of pending rulings by UEFA judicial bodies.

Juventus is under investigation by UEFA’s club finance monitoring panel over false accounting allegations that already resulted in a 10-point deduction in Serie A.

That domestic punishment dropped Juventus out of the Champions League qualification places into the Europa Conference League, costing the club tens of millions of euros.

Aston Villa is under UEFA scrutiny over integrity rules relating to multi-club ownership. Villa’s American owners have a stake in Portuguese club Vitoria, which also qualified for the Europa Conference League.

UEFA rules do not allow two clubs under the “decisive influence” of the same owner to enter European competitions if their paths could cross at any point in the season, even if they start in different competitions.