Fri, Aug 04, 2006 - Page 22 News List

AC Milan European ban lifted

CHEATS NEVER PROSPER?The Italian giants will play in this year's Champions' League after UEFA found it didn't have a legal basis on which to ban the 'rossoneri'


AC Milan will play in the Champions League this season.

The six-time European champions, who had been barred from Europe's top club competition by an Italian sports tribunal investigating the country's match-fixing scandal, will face either Ireland's Cork City or Serbia's Red Star Belgrade on Aug. 8 or 9 in the third qualifying round.

But UEFA's emergency panel said on Wednesday it made it clear to the club that "this admission is far from being given with the utmost conviction."

UEFA said it was forced to include Milan in the third qualifying round after having examined testimonies from the team, the Italian soccer federation and UEFA's disciplinary inspector.

The panel came to the conclusion that it had "no choice" but to admit Milan, because it had no legal basis to bar the team from entering the competition.

The Italian ruling to ban Milan from the competition was overturned on appeal, and UEFA provisionally included Milan in today's draw for the tournament.

AC Milan, owned by former Italian premier and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, submitted written arguments to UEFA's emergency panel. The Italian soccer federation also submitted arguments in support of the team.

UEFA said Milan took advantage of the fact that the Swiss-based body lacks legal grounds to refuse the club's admission. UEFA said it would change its regulations as a result.

The emergency panel said it was "deeply concerned that AC Milan has created the impression of being involved in the improper influencing of the regular course of matches in the Italian football championship."

From Milan's statement, the panel concluded "that the club has obviously not yet properly perceived the troubles it is in and the damage it already caused to European football."

UEFA said it and the club's opponents would carefully monitor Milan's behavior. UEFA said it would "not hesitate to intervene severely" should Milan attempt improperly influence the outcome of a match.

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