BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Rapid Bucharest was relegated Friday from Romania's top division by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ordered Concordia Chiajna to be reinstated two weeks after the season kicked off.
CAS said its judge ruled that the Romanian football federation was wrong to offer financially troubled Rapid a place in a playoff match, which it won, against Concordia last month. "Rapid did not have a license to participate ... (and) the knockout game was organized without any regulatory basis," the court said in a statement. "The appeal of Concordia Chiajna is upheld, meaning that it is eligible to compete in Liga 1 for the 2013-2014 season in lieu of Rapid."
A Steaua-Rapid derby match in Bucharest scheduled for Saturday has now been canceled. Concordia, which finished 15th last season, asked CAS for a reprieve, arguing that Rapid — which finished in the middle of the table — should have been automatically relegated over financial problems.
The federation had refused to grant Rapid a license after the three-time champion filed for insolvency in November. Rapid's financial issues also led UEFA in May to impose a one-season suspension from European club competitions and a €100,000 ($130,500) fine.
However, the RFF then granted the unusual option of a playoff match rather than uphold its own licensing rules. The Romanian federation "chose not to participate" in an emergency hearing Wednesday at CAS headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, the court said.
Concordia should now become the second Romanian club to secure its top-tier status this season at CAS. Last month, Universitatea Cluj defeated the RFF at sports' highest court when it successfully appealed against a relegation order, arguing that its unpaid debts after insolvency were settled by a March deadline.