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FOOTBALL

UEFA reject Sion appeal

UEFA have rejected Swiss club FC Sion's appeal against their expulsion from the Europa League, allowing Celtic to remain in the competition, European football's governing body confirmed on
Tuesday.

The Swiss club were thrown out of the tournament on September 2nd after being found guilty of fielding ineligible players, with the Scottish club handed their place in the group stages despite losing the play-offs 3-1 on aggregate.  

Sion had vowed to fight their expulsion but lost their appeal to be reinstated during a UEFA hearing on Tuesday.

A UEFA statement confirmed: “THE UEFA Appeals Body today rejected FC Sion’s appeal against their expulsion from the group stages of this season’s Europa League.”

Sion has up to 10 days within receipt of the written grounds of UEFA’s decision to file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.

UEFA’s statement continued: “The Appeals Body heard the parties and decided to reject the appeal lodged by FC Sion, confirming that the Swiss club had fielded ineligible players in both ties.”

UEFA said Celtic will therefore play Club Atletico de Madrid on September 15th.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Swiss regional court backed Sion’s fight to be reinstated in the competition.

“The civil court has this morning ordered UEFA to admit FC Sion as a participant of the UEFA Europa League 2011-2012 and to take all necessary measures to integrate it in the UEFA Europa League group in which FC Sion has qualified,” Sion said in a statement.

“The Canton de Vaud Tribune also orders UEFA to consider the players Stefan Glarner, Billy Ketkeophomphone, Mario Mutsch, Pascal Feindouno, Jose Goncalves and Gabri as eligible as FC Sion players and to admit them in the 2011-12 UEFA Europa League.

“The order has been declared immediately binding.”

But UEFA added: “UEFA also received today on this matter a court decision from the Tribunal Cantonal de Vaud and will issue a statement in this respect at a later stage.”

News of the ruling was welcomed by the Scottish club: “Clearly, Celtic are pleased with the decision.”

Celtic are currently preparing for the game in Spain but Sion president Christian Constantin has said his side also intend to travel to the Spanish capital.

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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