Greek soccer club PAOK gets 7-point deduction overturned

Sports

GENEVA (AP) — Greek soccer club PAOK Thessaloniki was given a possible path back to entering next season’s Champions League on Friday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a deduction of seven points.

The court partially upheld defending champion PAOK’s appeal against the punishment from the Greek soccer federation for a breach of rules prohibiting ownership stakes in other clubs.

However, PAOK faces more uncertainty because the CAS judges sent the matter back to the national federation’s appeals panel for a fresh verdict.

The decision temporarily restores PAOK to second place behind Olympiakos — whose complaint provoked the case — with three rounds left to play. Olympiakos has already won the title.

PAOK would rise above AEK Athens with a three-point cushion ahead of playing at Olympiakos on Sunday. The Greek league runner-up enters the second qualifying round of the Champions League in August.

“The CAS panel found that, notwithstanding its power to decide the case itself, it was not appropriate to render a final and binding decision in such circumstances, with major consequences for Greek football,” the court said.

PAOK was originally judged to have broken ownership rules by having a stake in league rival Xanthi.

Olympiakos filed the original complaint and counter-appealed to CAS seeking a stronger punishment. It had wanted PAOK and Xanthi relegated according to rules in place until January, when national lawmakers intervened to change them.

CAS criticized the Greek federation appeals panel for its mistaken analysis of a government report in January which had “not been fully assessed in either the first instance or appeal proceedings.”

CAS said Xanthi’s seven-point deduction remains in place because the club did not challenge it.

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