Fenerbahce replaced by Trabzonspor in CL draw

Turkish champion Fenerbahce has been replaced by domestic

runner-up Trabzonspor in the Champions League group stage after the

country’s federation withdrew the club because of an ongoing

match-fixing investigation.

Turkey’s Football Federation said it withdrew Fenerbahce on the

eve of the group-stage after holding emergency meetings Wednesday.

That caused UEFA to summon its emergency panel, which decided to

include Trabzonspor in the draw instead.

”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,” UEFA General

Secretary Gianni Infantino said. ”The Turkish Football Federation

has shown with this decision that it takes its full responsibility

in the fight against corruption.”

Trabzonspor finished second in the Turkish league last year but

had been eliminated by Benfica in Champions League qualifying and

entered into a playoff for the Europa League instead. Its opponent

in the playoff, Athletic Bilbao, will be given a direct entry into

the second-tier competition.

The group draw for the 32 clubs in the Champions League is held

Thursday in Monaco.

The decision to ban Fenerbahce came after UEFA sent its legal

counsel for integrity, Pierre Cornu, to Turkey for meetings this

week with senior football officials.

UEFA’s decision to include Trabzonspor in its marquee club

competition is not entirely risk-free, however, as that club has

also been implicated in the probe. UEFA had warned it would kick

out any team, and wipe its results from the record, if any

match-fixing allegation was proven.

Turkey could lose its place entirely in the competition.

Turkey’s champion club traditionally earns at least ?20 million

($29 million) from playing in the competition, based on UEFA

bonuses, match results and a share of Turkish broadcasting

deals.