Champions League draw: Pressure builds on Chelsea to let Thibaut Courtois play for free

Agreement would oblige Atletico to pay the Blues a fee that could reach €6m (£5m) should the goalkeeper play in both legs

Chelsea were left last night considering their options over goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ loan clause after Uefa’s public intervention on the side of Atletico Madrid left them on the back foot.

After Chelsea and Atletico were drawn together in the Champions League semi-finals, Courtois is eligible to face his parent club, but his doing so would trigger a clause in the loan agreement – thought to be €3m (£2.5m) per appearance – that the Spanish club has said it cannot afford to pay.

Uefa, though, intervened and said that any such deal between Chelsea and Atletico was “null, void and unenforceable” as any indirect influencing of one team’s selection by another would undermine the integrity of the competition.

Chelsea would not comment on details of the contract drawn up between the two clubs, but did say that they would evaluate Uefa’s statement and respond over the weekend. But the club insisted again that Courtois has always been fully eligible to play and that they would be happy for him to do so.

“The loan was arranged back at the start of the season,” Chelsea’s chief executive, Ron Gourlay, told Sky Sports News immediately after the draw. “It’s quite simple – Thibaut can play against Chelsea. That was never in doubt. Regarding the Uefa statement that came out, we will evaluate that in due course, over the next 24 to 48 hours. As far as Chelsea’s concerned, we’ve complied with the loan rules. Thibaut can play against Chelsea, in both ties, if selected by the Atletico Madrid manager. That is fact.”

Courtois’ eligibility for the two games – which will take place at the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Tuesday 22 April and at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 30 April, has never been in doubt. Uefa, unlike the Premier League, allows players on loan to face their parent clubs and Chelsea have always said that Atletico would be free to pick him.

The issue is about the terms of the clause in the agreement that would oblige Atletico to pay Chelsea a fee that could reach €6m (£5m) should Courtois play in both legs. The Atletico president, Enrique Cerezo, had said that the club would not be able to pay that amount. “For him to play we would have to pay a large quantity of money,” Cerezo said earlier this week, “a figure we cannot pay.”

Uefa’s stated, in the strongest possible terms, that such an agreement was unfair and unsporting. “The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for Uefa,” the statement read.

“Both the Uefa Champions League and the Uefa disciplinary regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may [or may not] field in a match.

Chelsea covet Diego Costa Chelsea covet Diego Costa (Getty Images)
“It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as Uefa is concerned.

“Furthermore, any attempt to enforce such a provision would be a clear violation of both the Uefa Champions League and the Uefa Disciplinary Regulations and would therefore be sanctioned accordingly.”

Regulation 3.01 of the Champions League rules states that “no club participating in a Uefa club competition may, either directly or indirectly... have any power whatsoever in... the management, administration and/or sporting performance of any other club participating in a Uefa club competition.”

What remains to be seen is whether Uefa has the power to void the clause in the loan agreement made last summer, thereby releasing Atletico to field Courtois free of charge. While the organisation took a strong stance on the issue yesterday, it had been more relaxed on Thursday, saying that details of agreements between clubs were primarily an issue for Fifa.

Chelsea travel to Swansea City for a Premier League game, with Eden Hazard missing through injury. Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, who were ineligible for Tuesday’s Champions League triumph against Paris Saint-Germain, in which Demba Ba scored the decisive goal, are likely to come into a changed team.

“The ones that are not playing so regular, all of them are being good professionals to try to be ready,” Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho, said last night. “You could see Demba as an example of a player who doesn’t play a lot and was ready to try to respond.”

Mourinho expects a difficult test from Swansea. “They are a good team, they play good football. Especially at Swansea it is never easy and Chelsea knows that better than other teams. They still need the three points, they are not in big danger like other teams but they still need a couple of points to stay in the Premier League and they will try to get points out of this game.”

Chelsea’s Premier League game at home against Sunderland has been moved from Easter Sunday to the previous day, Saturday 19 April, further away from their semi-final first leg in Madrid.

Euro semi-finals: Draw details

* Champions League

Atletico Madrid v Chelsea

Tues 22 & Wed 30 April

Real Madrid v Bayern Munich

Wed 23 & Tues 29 April

Final Sat 24 May, Lisbon

* Europa League

Benfica v Juventus

Seville v Valencia

Thurs 24 April & Thurs 1 May

Final Wed 14 May, Turin

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThe ZX Spectrum is going back on sale - with all your favourite retro games
Sport
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk