Despite appearing to crash out of the Champions League during the tournament’s qualifying rounds, Celtic have been issued a bizarre second chance following revelations that Legia Warsaw fielded an ineligible player, reports the BBC.
Legia won the third qualifying round tie 6-1 on aggregate, but have seen their victory taken away from them after bringing on Bartosz Bereszynski as a substitute in the second-leg of the tie. The player in question was still serving a suspension picked up last season, and was therefore not allowed to play.
Bereszynski was hit with a three match ban following his being sent off for Legia against Apollon Limassol last season. The player missed both legs of Legia’s win over St Patrick’s Athletic in the second qualifying round, and he was also not present for the opening four-one victory against Celtic in the first leg of their third round qualifying tie. However, it has emerged that the player was not even registered in the squads for those three matches, and therefore the ties did not count toward his suspension.
Legia have 4 days to appeal the decision, which they are expected to do. Celtic were awarded a 3-0 ‘walkover’ win following the decision to find Legia guilty, and subsequently won the tie on away goals. Such was the margin of their victory, however, Legia believe that the punishment is too severe.
‘This is unjust and completely disproportionate.,’ said Legia official Dominik Ebebenge, ‘There have been similar cases in the past which have not punished in this way. This was just a basic human error.’ Ebebenge concluded, ‘We have spent eight years working towards this and now it has been taken away from us. Financially, it’s unimaginable and the players are shattered.’