A Fenerbahce result could be in vain against Arsenal
Tonight’s Champions League qualifier between Fenerbahce and Arsenal is certainly one to keep an eye on – and not just for the playing quality.
August 21st, 2013
The winners of the two-legged Play-off round tie will ostensibly move to the group stages which are set to begin next month – but while Arsenal’s worry will centre on getting over their opening day defeat by Aston Villa to progress to the next round, Fenerbahce’s biggest concern is being allowed to stay in the competition should they qualify to do so.
Last season’s Turkish league runners-up and winners of the domestic cup are staring down the business end of a ban from European competition after being found among the guilty parties in a major match-fixing scandal. It isn’t Fenerbahce’s first – their national association withdrew them from following up on their domestic league win with European competition in 2011 while they were investigated on similar charges.
This revelation would have seen Fenerbahce replaced in the Champions League third qualifying round – a fate which befell league rivals Besiktas and Metalist Kharkiv – before they were permitted to compete pending the result of the upcoming hearing. The Court of Arbitration for Sport will hear each of these cases this week before making a ruling seven days from today – the morning after their crucial second leg at the Emirates. Speculation is rife over the possibilities if the Turkish side was to win and be expelled from competition anyway; with the hotly-contested European place potentially going to Arsenal or perhaps to a lower-ranked Turkish side.
The previous investigation had seen 93 league and club players and officials held accountable for the scandal; Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim was convicted and spent a year in jail.
Meanwhile, Arsenal will be missing Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain for six weeks with a knee injury. And Arsenal fans would be disappointed with their manager if he doesn’t win. For a change.