Soccer

Metalist official loses CAS appeal in fixing case

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GENEVA (AP)

Metalist Kharkiv's sports director lost his appeal Friday in a match-fixing case at sport's highest court, possibly forcing the expulsion of the Ukrainian club from the Champions League.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Yevhen Krasnikov's five-year ban imposed by the Ukraine Football Federation for helping fix Metalist's 4-0 victory over Karpaty Lviv in April 2008.

In wide-ranging verdicts after a lengthy and complex case, CAS upheld three- to five-year bans plus $10,000 fines for six players. They include current Metalist defender Serhiy Pshenychnykh, who played then for Karpaty, and Vasyl Kobin, a Ukraine international currently with champion Shakhtar Donetsk.

However, the CAS verdicts could now force UEFA to open a disciplinary case against the club, only days after Metalist's Champions League debut. It won 2-0 on Tuesday against Greek team PAOK Thessaloniki in the first leg of the third qualifying round.

UEFA rules deny clubs entry to its competitions for involvement in fixing a match since April 2007, when its legal statutes were updated.

Metalist said in a statement it will consider appealing to Switzerland's supreme court, which can overturn judgments if legal process was abused.

''We will investigate in detail its grounding and will do everything to protect our interests,'' said Sergii Kurchenko, who became club president in December. ''I think that this decision will not have significant consequences for Metalist in the future.''

Metalist finished runner-up last season under new owners reportedly linked to state president Viktor Yanukovych, finally breaking the hold of Shakhtar and Dynamo Kiev on Ukraine's Champions League entries.

Metalist is scheduled to host PAOK in the return leg on Wednesday, and is favored to advance to next Friday's playoff draw. Playoff winners reach the lucrative group stage.

CAS has already taken away one prize from Metalist - stating that the club ''is deprived of the bronze medal'' for its third-place league finish in 2007-08. CAS also fined Metalist $25,000.

Krasnikov, who has been Metalist's sporting director since 2005, was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. He allegedly conspired in a plot to pay Karpaty players to allow Metalist to win a league match as it needed points to challenge for a top-two finish.

A video broadcast on Ukrainian channel TVi allegedly showed Karpaty defender Sergei Lashchenkov telling his honorary club president, Petro Dyminsky, that he accepted $110,000 from Krasnikov. Karpaty players were allegedly to receive $10,000 each. Lashchenkov, a Moldova international who has since retired, had his five-year ban upheld Friday.

Metalist officials denied wrongdoing and the club's previous owner, oligarch Oleksandr Yaroslavky, suggested a conspiracy to protect Dynamo Kiev. Former Dynamo president Hryhoriy Surkis also led the FFU until 2012, and is a longstanding member of UEFA's executive committee.

Fallout from the case affected Ukraine's preparations to co-host the 2012 European Championship.

Metalist coach Myron Markevych also guided the national team but quit ahead of the tournament, citing the Surkis-led FFU of ''destroying'' football in Kharkiv, a city in the industrial eastern region which staged three Euro 2012 matches.

In its 250-page ruling, the CAS also fined Karpaty $25,000 and ordered deferred sanctions for some club officials, including honorary president Peter Dyminskyy. He was fined $5,000.

CAS declined to deduct nine points, a penalty which the FFU tried to impose on Metalist and Karpaty for the 2011-12 season.

The court said FFU rules allow points deductions only for ''repeated infractions to the disciplinary rules'' rather than single offenses.

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