United in potential Champions League reprieve after FIFA threaten Swiss FA
17 December 2011
FIFA's threat to suspend Switzerland from world football if its national association does not discipline FC Sion could hand Manchester United a Champions League reprieve.
If the suspension took effect, Swiss champion FC Basle would be prevented from playing Bayern Munich in the Champions League round of 16 in February.
Basle advanced ahead of Manchester United, who would logically be reinstated by UEFA.
Switzerland's Football Association has a further incentive to meet FIFA's demand - it is scheduled to host Lionel Messi and Argentina in a February 29 friendly in Bern.
Swiss FA leaders were meeting Saturday to weigh the FIFA ultimatum.
Sion has breached football's rules in a legal saga since 2009 when FIFA imposed a one-year transfer ban for breaking transfer regulations in the signing of goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary.
On Saturday, FIFA criticised 'the attitude of the club repeatedly trying to circumvent this decision in a legally abusive manner,' in a statement issued after a meeting of its executive committee.
Sion's determination to fight football and legal authorities led it to launch a series of civil court actions against UEFA since being expelled from the Europa League in September for fielding players that were signed during the transfer ban.
FIFA and UEFA were backed on Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which upheld UEFA's right to kick Sion out of the competition based on FIFA's transfer sanction.
FIFA stepped up the fight Saturday by ordering the Swiss FA to enforce a ban on registering six Sion players signed in the offseason during the transfer embargo.
'As a consequence, all matches in which the relevant players participated shall be declared forfeit or three points shall be deducted respectively,' FIFA said.
'Should this deadline not be respected, the Swiss FA will be automatically suspended from Jan. 14, 2012 onwards.'
Under the terms of a FIFA suspension, a country's national and club teams, referees and officials are prohibited from taking part in international matches and meetings, or receive FIFA funding.
Lord Goldsmith, who served as the UK's Attorney General between 2001 and 2007, was listed by FIFA today as part of the committee mandated to propose reforms to the game's world governing body, which has endured a damaging 2011.
Former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam was handed a lifetime ban for bribery in July, while Jack Warner, a FIFA vice-president and president of the confederation governing football in North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF), resigned from all football activity in June having been charged with the same offence.