TURKEY: Clubs Take to the Courts


The Turkish football community has burst into both discussion and confusion today because of the unbelievable number of appeals and law suits involving Turkish teams.

CAS force UEFA to allow Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş into European qualifying rounds

The biggest news, which got Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş fans across the world excited, was that the Court for the Arbitration of Sport will give its final decision on the European competition bans of Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş on 28 and 30 August 2013, respectively. In the meantime, both teams will participate in the qualifying draws of the two European club competitions; Fenerbahçe in the UEFA Champions League and Beşiktaş in the UEFA Europa League. This comes less than seventy-two hours after UEFA had upheld the European bans on the Istanbul teams while eliminating Fenerbahçe’s probationary one-year ban.

Fenerbahçe are in the Champions League third qualifying round while Beşiktaş is in Europa League play-off round. Here are the important dates for Champions League and Europa League qualification:

19 July 2013: draw for the third qualifying round.

30 or 31 July 2013 and 6 or 7 August 2013: first and second legs of third qualifying round.

9 August 2013: draw for the play-off qualifying round.

20 or 21 August 2013 and 27 or 28 August 2013: first and second legs of the play-off qualifying round.

29 August 2013: draw for the Champions League group stage.

(The Europa League draws are the same as the above and the matches take place a day after each Champions League qualifying match)

The confusion comes into play when one asks, ‘What if CAS doesn’t overturn UEFA’s bans?’

By the time Fenerbahçe has received its verdict from CAS, it will have already qualified or failed to qualify for the Champions League. The same goes for rivals Beşiktaş in the Europa League.

If the bans on Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş are not overturned and they do qualify for the group stages, the teams which they will have faced in the play-off round, regardless of results, will enter the Champions League proper and Europa League proper.


Repercussions on Other Teams

Bursaspor, which only three days ago had found itself in the Champions League third qualifying round, has filed its own appeal to CAS. They want CAS to deny Fenerbahçe’s appeal. Bursa’s appeal was filed later than Fenerbahçe’s appeal. So CAS will most likely deal with the Fener and Beşiktaş issue first. It is likely that the Green Crocodiles transferred Sebastien Frey (pictured above) with the intention of qualifying for the Champions League. Bursa’s accountants might have expected the transfer fees of Frey and former Nice player Renato Civelli to come from money received from qualifying for the Champions League. Bursa could have made ten million euro for just qualifying for the group stage.

Bursa will have to make due with a Europa League play-off spot. The situation is difficult for the 2009/10 champions as accepting the facts and playing in the Europa League third qualifying round means they have little right to complain later. But refusing to play in the Europea League out of protest complicates matters further. Bursa, however, may try to sue UEFA for lost revenue later on.

Central Anatolian side Kayserispor and sixth-placed Kasımpaşa will not play any continental football next season because of the European qualification positions shifting up one place.

P.A.O.K. Thessaloniki, a Greek team qualified for the third qualifying round of the Champions League, have also been negatively affected by CAS’s provisional decision to allow Fenerbahçe into the Champions League. P.A.O.K had a better coefficient than Bursaspor and were thus a seeded team for 19 July’s draw. With Fenerbahçe’s re-entry into qualifying, however, P.A.O.K. are unseeded and risk coming up against the likes of Lyon, Zenit and, of course, Fenerbahçe. The prospect of playing against the Turkish team may not be so daunting for P.A.O.K. though; the team was originally established in the Beyoğlu neighborhood of Istanbul before relocating in 1926 and they also beat Fenerbahçe over two legs in the Champions League play-off round in 2010.

Beşiktaş’ re-entry into the Europa League play-off round will have a similar effect as Fenerbahçe’s re-entry had on the Champions League third-qualifying round due to club coefficients. At this point, however, it is hard to tell the magnitude that Kayserispor’s removal will have. The teams which will play in the play-off round of the Europa League are not all decided yet.

There is no non-champions section of the Europa League play-off round like there is in the Champions League. Fenerbahçe will contest the non-champions section of the play-off round which is designed to make it easier for champions of traditionally lower quality leagues to qualify for the Champions League by restricting them from facing European giants who fail to win their country’s league title. (Like fourth-placed Arsenal, Real Sociedad and third-placed Lyon)

Galatasaray takes the Turkish Football Federation to the European Court of Human Rights

The Turkish Football Federation rejected Galatasaray’s appeal to have the new 6+0+4 foreigner limit changed and the Turkish champions will bring Turkish football’s national body in front of the European Court of Human Rights. The TFF, which is conveniently abbreviated the same in both Turkish and English, recently announced its new foreigner limit as six non-Turkish players in a match day squad and four more able to be under contract at any time.

Galatasaray intends to argue against this rule and ask that European Union citizens count towards domestic players. Despite not being a state in the European Union, Turkey is a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights does have jurisdiction in the Republic of Turkey.

At first glance, Galatasaray has a lot of non-EU players. But African trio Didier Drogba, Dany Nonkeu and Aurélien Chedjou are all naturalised French nationals. Additionally, Emmanuel Eboué is a Belgian citizen from when he played in the country, Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera also holds Italian citizenship from his time in Serie A with Lazio. Even Moroccan international Nordin Amrabat was born in the Netherlands. In fact, the only player who plays for Galatasaray without either EU citizenship or Turkish citizenship is Emmanuel Culio who has spent the last two years on loan across Turkey. Galatasaray has a coherent argument with respect to opposing the TFF based on its late announcement of the new foreigner rule. But if all EU citizens were treated as Turkish citizens, then all progress that the TFF is trying to make on the international front would be for nought.

Yusuf Nasihi

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