UEFA Cup ban for Georgian club Sioni
TBILISI, June 1 (Reuters) - Georgian club Sioni Bolnisi have been banned from taking up their place in next season's UEFA Cup following crowd violence in the championship decider against WIT Georgia Tbilisi last weekend.
WIT Georgia beat Sioni 2-0 in a one-off "golden match" on Sunday to clinch their first Georgian title and a place in the Champions League qualifiers, while the losers earned the right to play in the UEFA Cup.
But the Georgian soccer federation found Sioni guilty of instigating crowd trouble during the match. They were fined $5,000, banned from competing in Europe and ordered to play their next 10 games at a neutral ground.
Sioni, whose place in the UEFA Cup is likely to be taken by fourth-placed finishers FC Tbilisi, said they would appeal.
There was a festive atmosphere before Sunday's match as several thousand Sioni fans made a two-hour trip to the capital from their small village of only 8,000 inhabitants, hoping to witness their club win their first major title.
But things turned nasty after Sioni went a goal down and fighting started. The match was interrupted on three separate occasions and took nearly three hours to complete.
Two Sioni fans were taken to hospital with serious wounds after being stabbed and riot police had to be deployed.
The one-off match had to be played after WIT Georgia and Sioni ended the league season level on points. Last year's champions Dinamo Tbilisi finished third.