Thursday, 8 January 2009

UEFA postpones decision on Huntelaar and Lass

UEFA's Control and Disciplinary committee did not finally make any pronouncements today as had been expected, regarding the registration of both 'Lass' Diarra and Huntelaar as Real Madrid players for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

The story has been brewing for a couple of weeks now, ever since Real Madrid signed Lass from Portsmouth and then 'discovered', via the press, that UEFA rules state that of a maximum of three new players that can be registered for the knock-out stages by February 1st, only one can have played in another European competition, such as the UEFA cup.

Admittedly, Real Madrid have found themselves in a fairly unusual position, having lost three players for the remainder of the season before the year was out. However, UEFA rules are quite clear on this point, and have been for some years. Protestations to the contrary cannot disguise the fact that the club's sporting director, Predrag Mijatovic, or one of his team, should have known. The chances of a resignation, or, at the very least, some sort of apology for the mistake, are, shall we say, remote.

Mijatovic & Co. have tried to deal with this in typical fashion, acting as if it is someone else's fault. In this case, they argue that UEFA's rules are ambiguous and contradictory, given that third placed teams in the Champions League group stages then go on to compete in the UEFA Cup, and say they are prepared to appeal all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Besides the fact that it is unlikely that there is enough time for the appeals process to complete before the 1st February deadline, Real Madrid's directors are being at best disingenuous (and thus once again incompetent) or at worst just going through the motions for appearance's sake. The rules are quite clear (articles 17.17 and 17.18 if you want to look them up) and Real will have to pick one of their two recent acquisitions (probably Lass) for registration. Whether the rules are "fair", given Real Madrid's injury situation, is irrelevant, and UEFA may very well decide to alter them, but only in time for next season.

Update: UEFA finally announced late on Thursday evening that its Control and Disciplinary Body had rejected Real Madrid's request and that any appeals would be heard next week.

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