UEFA punishes 11 European soccer clubs for overdue debts

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — UEFA punished 11 clubs on Friday, including one in Slovenia where its president Aleksander Čeferin was once a board member, for breaking financial monitoring rules.

Six clubs including Olimpija Ljubljana and Romanian champion Cluj were threatened with a one-year ban from the next European competition they qualify for through 2027. They have probationary periods of one or two years with financial targets to meet, UEFA said in a statement.

Olimpija was fined 100,000 euros ($106,000) by a UEFA-appointed investigation panel for late or non-payment — so-called “overdue payables” — of wages, transfer fees or social taxes. More than 200 clubs that qualified to play in the three UEFA competitions this season were all evaluated three times since July, UEFA said.

The fine is the second for Olimpija under UEFA rules formerly called “Financial Fair Play” since Čeferin left the club’s executive committee 12 years ago.

The Slovenian club earned 350,000 euros ($372,000) in UEFA prize money playing in the qualifying rounds of the third-tier Europa Conference League this season.

The biggest financial penalties were imposed on Croatian clubs Osijek and Rijeka, whose overdue payables dated to last season, putting them in breach of mandatory licenses granted by national federations for teams to play in UEFA competitions.

UEFA said both clubs were stripped of their 450,000 euros ($478,000) prize money from playing in the Europa Conference League this season.

The biggest fine for overdue debts was 250,000 euros ($266,000) imposed on Cluj, which played in the Champions League qualifying rounds this season and reached the Europa Conference League knockout playoffs, losing last week to Lazio.

Other fines ranged from 150,000 euros ($159,000) to 10,000 euros ($10,600) for Aris Thessaloniki, Astana, Borac Banja Luka, Floriana, Konyaspor, Kyzyl-Zhar SK Petropavlosk, Osijek and Valmiera.

The panel assessing clubs' finances for UEFA is chaired by Sunil Gulati, the former U.S. Soccer Federation president who is an economics lecturer at Columbia University. Gulati and Čeferin were colleagues on the FIFA Council from 2016-21. ___

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The Associated Press