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Virus-hit club loses appeal against Champions League ouster

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Slovan Bratislava lost its appeal Friday against exclusion from the Champions League by UEFA after players tested positive for COVID-19 in pre-game checks. The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld UEFA’s ruling last week that ordered the Slovakian champion to forfeit a first qualifying round game in the Faeroe Islands without playing.

Public authorities in the Faeroe Islands put two different squads of Slovan’s players into quarantine when a virus infection in each group was reported in tests required by UEFA. The game was postponed twice, then UEFA’s appeal panel awarded Faeroes champion KI Klaksvik a 3-0 win to advance to the next round. Slovan later said all 35 players tested negative on returning to Slovakia.

Friday’s urgent ruling from a CAS judge — without yet specifying reasons — was the second verdict Slovan lost there within 10 days. Last week, sport’s highest court dismissed Slovan’s request to postpone KI’s second qualifying round game hours before kickoff in Switzerland. KI lost 3-1 to Young Boys.

Slovan is among three clubs to forfeit games in August in qualifying rounds for the Champions League or Europa League. UEFA’s updated club competition rules during the pandemic recognize local public authorities' decision-making power over suspected COVID-19 cases involving players or club officials.

Slovan and Drita, the champion of Kosovo, have transferred across to qualifying rounds in the second-tier Europa League where prize money is hundreds of thousands of euros (dollars) less. Slovan was drawn to play away to KuPS of Finland on Sept. 17.

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