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Jun 10, 2013

Verdicts due in Fenerbahce fixing case

GENEVA -- Fenerbahce faces a second expulsion from the Champions League within three seasons after the Turkish giant and five of its club officials were charged by UEFA in a long-running match-fixing case.

UEFA said Monday it will hold a disciplinary case on June 22, and verdicts are expected the following week.

The five officials were not identified in a UEFA statement.

Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim was convicted last July in a criminal trial that resulted in 93 people charged in a case sparked by the Istanbul club's league-winning run in 2011.

Fenerbahce officials deny wrongdoing and have appealed to a higher court. The celebrated case even drew Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan into a public debate. A Fenerbahce fan, Erdogan suggested the team should not be punished even if individuals were.

UEFA banished Fenerbahce from the 2011-12 Champions League after the initial fixing allegations were made. Further action was likely when its lawyers finished studying the criminal verdicts.

"The UEFA Disciplinary Inspector has now submitted his findings to the control and disciplinary body, in the context of disciplinary proceedings against this club and five club officials," UEFA said in a statement.

UEFA rules bar clubs from its competitions for one season if they are connected to fixing matches played since April 2007, when its legal statutes were updated.

Fenerbahce finished second in the Turkish league this season and is set to enter the Champions League at the third qualifying round stage, needing to beat two opponents to enter the lucrative 32-team group stage. The third qualifying round draw is scheduled July 19 at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

UEFA allowed Fenerbahce to play in the Champions League qualifying rounds last season. The team was eliminated and dropped down to the Europa League, reaching the semifinals before losing to Benfica.

A second Champions League entrant - and former European champion -- also faces expulsion from the competition.

UEFA said it opened a separate case Monday involving Romanian champion Steaua Bucharest, the 1986 European Cup winner. That case will be heard on June 21.

Club president Gigi Becali was convicted last month of attempting to pay bribes to influence a team to beat one of Steaua's title rivals in 2008.

UEFA also opened proceedings Monday against a second Turkish club.

Beziktas, which earned a Europa League entry by finishing third in the league last month, faces a June 21 hearing to answer fixing charges relating to the 2011 Turkish Cup final. It beat city rival Istanbul BB on a penalty shootout.

UEFA did not identify two Beziktas officials who have also been charged.

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