Football: Leeds ordered to play third match

LEEDS UNITED are still in the European Cup. After five hours of deliberation in Zurich, Uefa last night finally announced that the League champions would replay against VfB Stuttgart, who had admitted that they played an ineligible player at Elland Road last Wednesday when they lost 4-1 but won the tie on the away goals rule. Leeds were relieved, but felt that the Germans should have been disqualified, not given hope by being allowed a second chance, especially on a neutral ground. The venue will be decided later.

Although Stuttgart officials themselves were honest enough to draw Uefa's attention to their discretion, Leeds were understandably unsympathetic towards a club that had broken a rule that had always been difficult to justify. The whole concept of the European Cup is to match league champions against each other irrespective of the countries from which their players are obtained.

If it did little else, yesterday's prolonged debate may have persuaded Uefa that the rule itself should be questioned. They may ask themselves why a team winning a national championship in one season is not allowed to play in its entirety in the following season's European Cup.

Although a cynical view would suggest that German influence over Uefa caused yesterday's debate to last for several hours, the crux of Uefa's dilemma was whether their usual penalty for transgressions - awarding the innocent club a 3-0 victory - was sufficient. Leeds were adamamant that it was not. They insisted that Stuttgart should be evicted from the competition but Uefa were equally intent on avoiding greater controversy by disqualifying the German champions.

Leeds, who were strongly represented in Zurich, were angered by Stuttgart's attempt to discredit them on Friday when they tried to suggest that Gary Speed was also ineligible to play. Leeds immediately pointed out that although Speed plays for Wales, he was fully qualified to play for them under Uefa rules. Uefa agreed that Stuttgart's accusation was spurious and fined the club Sfr10,000. However, they also said last night that both clubs have until 6 October to appeal against the decision to replay.

In the meantime, the victims of the delay and controversy are Rangers who have been drawn against the winners of the replay. They may want to avoid German opponents, who have knocked them out of European competition four times in the last 10 years, but are unlikely to welcome a tie against Leeds. That is a purely a footballing problem, but for the moment the controversy concerns Uefa's toothless authority.

Not for the first time Uefa have now shown themselves to be too timid even to uphold their own dignity. The rule concerning eligible players is clear, although, admittedly, maintaining it during the excitement of a European Cup tie requires some cool and responsible thinking. Clubs may field a maximum of three foreign born and two 'assimilated' players (those who have played for five years in the country of the club including three at under-19 level).

Controversial and absurd though it is, the rule has had to be accepted by British clubs who, because of their use of Scottish, Welsh and Irish players, were always likely to be the hardest hit. Indeed, at least one club, Liverpool, went as far as to change their purchasing policy to take into account the elegibility rule. So British clubs in particular have been scrupulously careful not to offend, and they would hardly expect to be given a second chance if they were found to have offended, even by 'accident'.

For Stuttgart to claim that they made their mistake in the heat of the moment is plausible but not forgivable. They knew that their squad contained more than the permitted number of foreign and assimilated players and must have had that in mind throughout the game. They obviously broke the rule and there was not even an element of doubt from which Uefa could let them benefit, let alone giving them a play-off. In effect Uefa have said that anyone breaking the rules by 'accident' or otherwise need not suffer the proper consequences which, surely, ought to be disqualification.

The Stuttgart coach, Christoph Daum, has all along admitted that the fault was his but blamed Uefa's complicated regulations. Strange how a club looking forward to huge profits from the European Cup could not run to giving him or another official a couple of highlighter pens to help keep tabs on eligible and ineligible players. After all, it was German officials who were among the original enthusiastic advocates of the rule.

As well as the provision for Stuttgart to appeal, there was the possibility of complaints from other clubs unhappy at two unseeded sides, Leeds and Rangers, facing each other for a place in the lucrative round-robin stage of Europe's premier club competition. Dinamo Bucharest, for example, believed that without Stuttgart in the last 16 they would have been seeded in the draw, and thus would have avoided being paired with Marseille.

(Photograph omitted)

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary