TP Mazembe disqualified from Champions League
Defending champion TP Mazembe of Congo was thrown out of the African Champions League on Saturday for fielding an ineligible player and three other teams were handed long-term suspensions from continental club competitions.
The Confederation of African Football also sanctioned six clubs for various disciplinary breaches and crowd problems, handing out fines totaling $220,000.
Four-time African champion Mazembe was found guilty of including the ineligible player, Congolese international defender Janvier Bokungu, in a Champions League preliminary stage match against Simba FC of Tanzania, CAF said.
TP Mazembe - which was seeking an unprecedented third straight title - said it would appeal the decision, which it called ''unacceptable.''
Highlanders of Zimbabwe, Township Rollers of Botswana and Chad's Tourbillon were all banned for three years for withdrawing from the Confederation Cup, Africa's version of the Europa League.
CAF ruled TP Mazembe, which gained international recognition last year by becoming the first African team to reach the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, fraudulently fielded Bokungu in the last 32, second leg match against Simba on April 3. Mazembe won the game 3-2 and the tie 6-3 on aggregate. Bokungu was reportedly still contracted to Esperance.
CAF said TP Mazembe's place in the eight-team group stage of the Champions League would go to the winner of a playoff between Simba and Morocco's Wydad Casablanca - the club Mazembe beat in the last 16 - at a neutral venue.
Mazembe was also fined $15,000 for a pitch invasion by fans.
Tunisia's Club Africain was fined $80,000, the steepest financial punishment handed out, for a pitch invasion which caused the abandonment of a Champions League game against Sudan's Al Hilal this month. Africain was ordered to play its next two games without supporters.
Wydad meanwhile had two players and its coach punished for abusive and threatening behavior toward the referee in the match against Mazembe.
Algeria's JS Kabylie was fined $50,000 and given a final warning after supporters threw missiles. Egypt's Al Ahly, the six-time African club champion, was ordered to pay $40,000 and will play its first home game of the group stage behind closed doors because of ''excessive usage of flares.''