UEFA says that Chelsea cannot stop on-loan Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois facing his parent club with the two drawn together in the Champions League.
Atletico president Enrique Cerezo claimed this week that a clause existed in the loan agreement between the clubs prohibiting the Belgium international from playing should they meet, barring the payment of a large "penalty" sum which the financially troubled La Liga outfit could not afford to pay.
This appeared to ensure that Courtois would not play should Chelsea and Atletico meet in either the semifinals or the final of this season’s competition.
But European football’s ruling body released a statement on Friday morning, just ahead of the semifinal draw, saying that any such clauses were against the "integrity of sporting competition" and were "null, void and unenforceable" as far as UEFA was concerned.
"In response to media reports referring to the situation of Club Atletico de Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, UEFA would like to reiterate its position. The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for UEFA," the statement read. "Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match."
"It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned. Furthermore, any attempt to enforce such a provision would be a clear violation of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations and would therefore be sanctioned accordingly."
Courtois himself has regularly gone on record to say he would be happy to play in any game against Chelsea, while it seems unlikely that Atletico coach Diego Simeone would leave out his first-choice goalkeeper if he was not strictly forced to by the rules.