NYON, Switzerland (AP) — UEFA opened urgent disciplinary action Tuesday against Champions League contender Metalist Kharkiv after its sports director was implicated in a 2008 match-fixing case.
"Due to the urgency of the case ... (it) has been referred directly to the UEFA Appeals Body" which will hold a hearing next Tuesday, UEFA said in a statement. Metalist hosts Greek side PAOK Thessaloniki in the second leg of the Champions League's third qualifying round Wednesday and is favored to advance to the playoff round. Metalist won 2-0 in Greece last week.
The playoff round draw is Friday and Metalist's UEFA ranking means potential opponents include Arsenal or AC Milan, with first-leg matches scheduled Aug. 20 and 21. However, Champions League regulations state that UEFA should bar clubs involved in match-fixing since April 2007.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport last Friday dismissed Metalist director Yevhen Krasnikov's appeal against a five-year ban from football. CAS upheld a Ukraine Football Federation ruling that Krasnikov helped fix a league match against Karpaty Lviv in April 2008.
Metalist seems likely to be as active legally as on the pitch in coming weeks. Club president Sergii Kurchenko suggested last Friday it could appeal the CAS ruling to Switzerland's supreme court, which can overturn judgments if legal process was abused.
"I think that this decision will not have significant consequences for Metalist in the future," said Kurchenko, who became club president in December. If UEFA's appeal panel rules against Metalist in the latest case, that judgment can also be challenged at CAS — even as the Ukrainian league runner-up pursues its debut Champions League campaign.