Legia Warszawa appeal against disqualification from Champions League dismissed by Court of Arbitration for Sport

Legia Warszawa appeal against disqualification from Champions League dismissed by Court of Arbitration for Sport

A football team which was disqualified from a tournament because it fielded a player who was serving a disciplinary suspension at the time has lost its appeal.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between Legia Warszawa SA and UEFA, dismissing the club’s appeal and confirming the decision issued on 14 August 2014 by the UEFA Appeals Body.

The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body (UEFA CEBD) primarily found the club to have breached the UEFA Champions League Regulations and UEFA Disciplinary Regulations by selecting a player serving a disciplinary suspension, Bartosz Bereszynski, to take part in the second leg of the third round qualifier against Celtic FC.

The UEFA CEBD declared the match between Celtic FC and Legia Warszawa played on 6 August 2014 as forfeit and deemed Legia Warszawa to have lost it 3:0 meaning that the club would exit the competition.

It appealed the decision to the UEFA Appeals Body, which dismissed the appeal.

On 15 August 2015, Legia Warszawa filed an appeal to the CAS to overturn the UEFA decisions, as well as an urgent request for provisional measures, requesting provisional admittance to the 2014/2015 UEFA Champions League matches while the CAS proceedings were in progress.

The president of the CAS Appeals Arbitration Division denied Legia Warszawa’s request for provisional measures.

The arbitration procedure was referred to a panel of CAS arbitrators: Mr Manfred Nan, the Netherlands (president), Professor Ulrich Haas, Germany, and Mr Fabio Iudica, Italy.

The panel heard the parties at a hearing held at the CAS Court Office on 28 January 2015.

Legia Warszawa argued that the UEFA rules and guidelines surrounding the need to include Bartosz Bereszynski’s name on the official list submitted to UEFA were unclear and amounted to “excessive formalism” and that the sanction was disproportionate.

The club also sought financial compensation of 1,854,385 euros.

UEFA, in turn, explained the relevant rules and circular letter in order to demonstrate why a player needs to be registered to serve a suspension, and noted that Legia Warszawa had followed the correct procedure on a previous occasion.

The CAS Panel found that UEFA’s requirement that only listed players can serve pending suspensions did not constitute excessive formalism and that it was compulsory for the club to list the player in order for him to serve his suspension.

The panel further found that Legia Warszawa’s violation of this requirement constituted a disciplinary infringement justifying the imposition of a disciplinary sanction, and that UEFA’s decision to declare the Club’s match against Celtic to be lost by forfeit was not disproportionate.

As a result of this the panel found that it was not necessary to address the claim for compensation.

Photo: “Court of Arbitration for Sport - Lausanne 2” by Fanny Schertzer - Own work. Licensed under CC.

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