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Aug, 24, 2011

Trabzonspor replace Fenerbahce

UEFA has confirmed Trabzonspor will replace Fenerbahce in the Champions League group stage.

• Champions League group stage draw

On Wednesday afternoon, it emerged via a statement on the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) website that UEFA wrote to the federation on Tuesday to demand Fenerbahce's withdrawal, threatening wider disciplinary action against the TFF should they fail to do so.

The letter was forwarded to Fenerbahce, who declined to withdraw.

''In the face of this development, on August 24 an extraordinary meeting of the board of directors was held to discuss the threat of the Turkish Football Federation being exposed to severe disciplinary sanctions if Fenerbahce took part in the UEFA Champions League this season, and it was decided to bar them from participating,'' the statement said.

The UEFA Emergency Panel has now chosen to replace the Turkish champions, whose chairman Aziz Yildirim has been arrested following allegations of manipulation in 19 matches along with 30 others, with their division counterparts Trabzonspor.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said: "The panel considered that the Turkish Football Federation took the right decision to protect the game, fully in line with our zero-tolerance policy against match-fixing.

"The Turkish Football Federation has shown with this decision that it takes its full responsibility in the fight against corruption."

A statement from UEFA further clarified: "The UEFA Emergency Panel also decided that Trabzonspor AS would be replaced in the UEFA Europa League by its opponent in the play-off, Athletic Club Bilbao.

"The UEFA Europa League play-off second-leg match between Trabzonspor AS and Athletic Club Bilbao scheduled for Thursday 25 August is cancelled."

The Turkish league's start is already subject to a delay - until September 9 - until the Federation completes its investigation. Runner-up Trabzonspor (also implicated in the match-fixing probe) had been previously eliminated in the Champions League qualifying rounds.

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