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Sports

UEFA disqualify Metalist Kharkiv from Champions League ahead of Schalke game

European football's governing body has excluded Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv from continental competition. The team was slated to play German club Schalke in the final Champions League qualifying round.

UEFA on Wednesday barred Metalist Kharkiv from the Champions League and the Europa League, "following the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings against the Ukrainian club."

UEFA also said on its website that the Ukrainian club "has the opportunity to appeal the decision of the UEFA Appeals Body to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)."

Metalist's Vice President Kostiantyn Pivovarvo said the CAS decision did not come as a surprise and that the club would be filing an appeal.

"We had already prepared for all outcomes," he told Russia's Interfax news agency.

Schalke to face PAOK

Metalist were scheduled to travel to Gelsenkirchen and play Schalke next Wednesday in the first leg of the final qualifying round for the Champions League. Instead it is PAOK Thessaloniki, a side managed by former Schalke coach Huub Stevens, who will travel to Germany.

Metalist had eliminated the Greek club 3-1 on aggregate in third round qualifying last week.

PAOK had dropped down to the Europa League but UEFA said they will not be replaced in that competition, meaning their scheduled playoff opponents Maccabi Tel-Aviv of Israel automatically advance to the group stage.

Match-fixing

UEFA cited three Articles of its rules for the Champions League competition in the announcement. The first, Article 2.04g, states that a club must not have been involved since April 2007 "in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level."

The next article mentioned, 2.05, stipulates that UEFA can exclude a team for one year if it concludes that a team was either directly or indirectly involved in match-fixing.

Earlier this month, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld a Ukraine Football Federation (FFU) decision to fine Metalist Kharkiv and FC Karpaty $25,000 (19,000 euros) each over the manipulation of a match played in April 2008.

CAS also upheld the FFU's decision to strip Metalist of their third-place finish that season, and confirmed a five-year ban on one Metalist player involved in the game and three-year bans on another five, while Metalist director Yevhen Krasnikov was banned from any soccer-related activity for five years.

msh,dr/kms (dpa, SID, Reuters)