[ Soccer Features Page | The Sports Page ]

NextCard Internet Visa - Apply Now

UEFA rejects PSG's appeal

(c) 1997 Copyright Nando.net
(c) 1997 Reuter Information Service

GENEVA (Aug 25, 1997 - 13:52 EDT) - Paris St Germain's appeal to have a two goal penalty lifted for using a suspended player in their European Cup preliminary round first leg match against Steaua Bucharest was turned down by UEFA on Monday.

The decision means that PSG's 3-2 loss in Bucharest on August 13 goes into the books as a 3-0 defeat.

The Paris club now have the Herculean task of beating the Romanian side by at least four goals in the return leg in Paris on Wednesday to qualify for the Champions' League.

"We respect the decision but we are extremely disappointed," said Jean-Francois Domergue, PSG director general.

"Now we will just try to do our best to prepare in the next 48 hours. We must make a maximum effort to repair the damage that has been done. Now it is up to the players."

The UEFA appeals board also upheld a similar decision in a case involving Georgian club Dynamo Batumi's use of an ineligible player in the first leg of their European Cup Winners' Cup qualifying match against Ararat Yerevan.

Batumi had posted a 4-2 victory over the Armenian club in the August 14 contest but were punished with a 3-0 defeat for fielding suspended player David Sologashvili.

PSG officials, who admitted that defender Laurent Fournier, who played the entire match, was ineligible because of his bookings last year, had hoped to get the two goal penalty reduced or replaced by a fine.

With a place in Europe possibly hanging in the balance, they pleaded their case to the UEFA appeals board for three hours at a Geneva airport hotel.

The former European Cup winners argued that the mistake was an administration error and that there is nothing in UEFA rule books that states that the use of an ineligible player is punishable by the opposing team being awarded a 3-0 win.

The board however, was unswayed by the PSG arguments and later hinted that the club was lucky not to have been excluded from the competition.

"If it had been found that the club had acted deliberately we would have excluded them completely," said Rene Eberle head of UEFA competitions, adding that PSG was also fined 12,000 Swiss francs ($8,000) for lodging an appeal.

"They presented many arguments but our regulations are clear," said Eberle.

"We're sorry, we know mistakes happen but rules are rules. The club is not only responsible for the players but for the staff, the coaches, the office workers, supporters -- everyone."

What amounts to a clerical blunder could prove to be a huge financial blow to PSG. The French league runners-up last season stand to lose millions of dollars should they make an early exit from Europe's most prestigious and lucrative tournament.