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TURKEY > UEFA opens executive committee meetings

ISTANBUL - The Associated Press

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Michel Platini (L) presents a UEFA placard to TFF Chairman Yıldırım Demirören. AA Photo

Michel Platini (L) presents a UEFA placard to TFF Chairman Yıldırım Demirören. AA Photo

UEFA opened a two-day executive committee meeting in Turkey yesterday to decide which city will host the 2014 Champions League final.

The meeting comes against a backdrop of tensions with local club Fenerbahçe, which lost its lucrative place in this year’s tournament over a match-fixing scandal.

Turkey is hosting the gathering, as well as the annual Congress of 53 football nations tomorrow, as it weighs a possible bid to host the 2020 European Championship. Istanbul is already bidding for the 2020 Olympics.

Two years ago, Turkey was edged by France to get hosting rights for the expanded 24-nation Euro 2016 tournament. Officials then grumbled that UEFA President Michel Platini - who is French and was not allowed to vote - had favored his home country’s winning campaign.

Platini will address the Congress one year after getting a second four-year mandate by acclaim, and the democratic unity of Europe’s football family is a planned theme in Istanbul.

Fenerbahce’s imprisoned chairman, Aziz Yildirim, is one of the main defendants in a trial over the match-fixing scandal which allegedly involves more than a dozen games last season. Yildirim has denied any wrongdoing.

The team, which could also be stripped of its domestic title, tossed out of the top flight and forced to play in a lower league - penalties that could cost the club millions — is appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport seeking 45 million Euros in compensation for being kicked out the competition.

Fenerbahce is claiming unfair treatment and “extrajudicial” punishment by UEFA and the Turkish Football Federation, arguing it was barred from the championship before the allegations have been ascertained. It also argues that other Turkish teams implicated in the alleged scheme were not barred from European competition.

Earlier this year, the chairman of the Turkish Football Federation quit in the fallout of how to deal with the teams implicated in the scandal. Platini took up the match-fixing allegations during an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on March 19.

The CAS hearing had been scheduled for Thursday in direct conflict with the Congress, but was postponed and is now likely to take place in May.

UEFA has invited major stakeholders to its Congress, including leaders of the European Club Association, European Professional Football Leagues and FIFPro, the global players’ union.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter - who is currently overseeing anti-corruption and transparency reforms - is also scheduled make a speech, as is usual for the FIFA leader when a continental confederation meets.

March/21/2012

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