Spanish club Osasuna was eliminated from the Europa Conference League on Wednesday by UEFA because former club officials were implicated in match-fixing a decade ago.
Osasuna said in a statement that it will appeal the ruling before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
By finishing seventh in La Liga last season, Osasuna earned a place in the playoff round of Europe’s third-tier club competition, needing to beat an opponent in August to advance to the group stage.
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UEFA’s verdict lifts eighth-place Athletic Bilbao into the competition. A CAS decision is likely to be needed before Athletic’s scheduled first leg on August 24.
Osasuna executives who are no longer with the club were involved in match-fixing between 2012 and 2014.
However, UEFA’s competition rules state that teams involved in fixing any match played since April 2007 may be dropped from the next competition for which they qualify. Other disciplinary measures may 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 Pamplona club could have expected to earn at least six million euros ($6.5 million) in UEFA prize money if the team had advanced to the group stage of the Europa Conference League.
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Osasuna suggested that UEFA erred in punishing the club and its current officials who had denounced the corruption of an earlier generation.
The line-up for the Europa Conference League playoff round faces further uncertainty due to pending rulings by UEFA’s judicial bodies.
Juventus are under investigation by UEFA’s club finance monitoring panel for false accounting allegations that have already resulted in a 10-point deduction in Serie A.
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That domestic punishment knocked Juventus out of the Champions League qualifying spots into the Europa Conference League, costing the club tens of millions of euros (dollars).
Aston Villa is under scrutiny from UEFA over integrity rules relating to ownership of various clubs. 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 participate in European competitions if their paths could cross at any time during the season, even if they start in different competitions.