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Context of 'September 23, 2011: UEFA Officials Ordered to Appear for Interview by Swiss Prosecutor over FC Sion Affair'

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UEFA throws the Swiss Club FC Sion out of the Europa League for fielding ineligble players. The players were ineligible because they were signed during a transfer ban imposed on the club (see Summer 2011) as punishment for rule-breaking (see April 16, 2009). The players played in a two-legged playoff tie with Celtic, and UEFA now awards each leg to the Scottish club 3-0. (UEFA 9/2/2011) Sion will appeal the ruling, but the decision will stand (see September 13, 2011).

A Swiss court, the Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud, orders that the club FC Sion be reinstated in the Europa League. UEFA recently threw Sion out of the league in a dispute over player eligibility (see September 2, 2011). UEFA is not represented at the court hearing. (UEFA 9/13/2011) Later the same day, UEFA’s appeal body confirms Sion’s ejection (see September 13, 2011), and UEFA’s emergency panel decides to ignore the court order (see Afternoon, September 13, 2011).

UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino are ordered to attend an interview with a Swiss prosecutor in UEFA’s home canton of Vaud over the FC Sion affair. The move comes after UEFA ignored a civil court ruling that the Swiss club should be reinstated in the Europa League, which led Sion to file a criminal complaint. UEFA issues a statement saying it is “happy that Michel Platini should go and meet the Vaud prosecutor and explain UEFA’s position.” (Dunbar 9/23/2011) The interview will take place in the middle of October (see October 19, 2011).

UEFA files an application with the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a decision on the FC Sion case. Although Sion was thrown out of the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011), it has taken the dispute to civil courts in Switerland (see Morning, September 13, 2011 and September 23, 2011), which UEFA does not approve of. (UEFA 10/11/2011)

A Swiss court again finds in favour of FC Sion in its dispute with UEFA over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League. The Civil Court of the Canton of Vaud instructs UEFA to reinstate the club in the Europa League and orders that UEFA pay the maximum fine of 1,000 Swiss francs for each day of non-compliance. The judge says that UEFA’s actions are unfair and that it appears not to have followed its own rules in the case. (FC Sion 10/5/2006)

UEFA’s executive committee unanimously decides to ignore a court order to reinstate the Swiss club FC Sion in the Europa League (see October 5, 2011). The decision is taken at an extraordinary meeting to discuss the case, although the meeting is not attended by UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino, who are to appear before a prosecutor in the case (see September 23, 2011). Neither is it attended by Peter GilliĆ©ron, a committee member and also president of the Swiss Football Association. Instead of complying with the ruling, the committee decides to wait for the outcome of another court hearing in the dispute, this time before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The committee justifies its refusal to comply by saying that it lacks the power to reinstate the club—Sion was ejected by UEFA’s disciplinary bodies and these are independent of the organization’s executive. UEFA issues a statement saying it is therefore “constitutionally unable to apply to the letter of the super provisional and provisional measures decided by the civil court.” (UEFA 10/11/2011)

UEFA President Michel Platini gives a wide-ranging interview to the German publication Der Spiegel on a number of topics. On the FC Sion affair, in which UEFA has decided to deliberately ignore a court order reinstating Sion in the Europa League, Platini is asked, “How is it that you can simply ignore a court’s ruling?” He replies: “The prosecutor will pose that question to me on October 19 (see September 23, 2011 and October 19, 2011). I can’t talk about it now.” He also talks about how he sees the significance of the dispute: “It would be a catastrophe for the sport if everyone could go to court at any time. Imagine if a player got a red card and found a judge who said: ‘The referee and the football association are preventing him from performing his job.’ A ban on working! We could all just call it quits… If a court decision finds that the six ineligible players should have been allowed to play, it would be a disaster, the end of football.” On the topic of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules Platini says the aim is to “introduce some fairness,” but does not know whether it will benefit German clubs specifically. Asked about the absence of specific penalties in the regulations, Platini replies, “It’s not about killing the clubs; we want to help them. There is a range of possible sanctions, including monetary fines, a ban on signing new players and the exclusion from competitions.” Platini also says that he has been sure for the last two months that the 2012 European Championships will be in Poland and Ukraine, as planned. Previously, there was a risk part of the tournament would be taken away from Ukraine and played in Germany. Finally, he refuses to confirm he will succeed Joseph Blatter as FIFA president in 2015. (Platini 10/14/2011)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport decides some procedural issues in the dispute between UEFA and the Swiss club FC Sion over the club’s expulsion from the Europa League (see September 2, 2011 and September 26, 2011). The court confirms its competence to decide the merits of the case, dismisses a request by FC Sion for a stay of proceedings, and confirms the nomination of the arbitrator originally chosen by FC Sion. In addition, the court’s statement sent to the parties twice states that FC Sion is committing “clear abuse of [court] procedures” through its attempts at legal maneuvering. (UEFA 10/15/2011)

A Swiss prosecutor interviews UEFA president Michel Platini and general secretary Gianni Infantino over the FC Sion case. UEFA threw Sion out of the Europa League for breaching a transfer ban (see September 2, 2011), but this led to a legal dispute and Sion filed a criminal complaint against UEFA, which is the reason for the interview (see September 23, 2011). (UEFA 10/19/2011; Agence France-Presse 10/19/2011) Details of what is said in the interview are unknown.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport sets the date of the hearing in the Europa League dispute between UEFA and the Swiss Club FC Sion for November 24. UEFA ejected Sion from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players (see September 2, 2011) and since then there has been a series of legal disputes between the parties (see September 26, 2011 and October 14, 2011). The date is conditional on it being approved by the two parties. (UEFA 10/25/2011) The court will rule in December, mostly in favour of UEFA (see December 15, 2011).

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