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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UEFA Bans Anderlecht Over Bribery

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- UEFA stunned Anderlecht with an "ethical and moral" decision to ban Belgium's biggest club from European competition for a season over allegedly bribing referees.


The European soccer body's decision, announced Monday after an executive committee meeting in Helsinki, referred to "incidents in 1983 and 1984 concerning bribery of referees."


"Anderlecht will not be admitted to participate in any European club competition for the first season the Belgian club may qualify for again," it said. Anderlecht is currently competing in this year's UEFA competition.


The reference to 1983, the year Anderlecht won the UEFA Cup, was a surprise since, until Monday, most allegations had centered on the following year when the club beat Nottingham Forest of England to reach the final again.


Anderlecht recently admitted having paid 1 million francs ($27,000) as a "loan" to the Spanish referee in the 1984 UEFA Cup semifinal. The referee, Guruceta Muro, died in a car crash in 1987.


The Belgians beat Forest 3-2 on aggregate, helped by a penalty and a disallowed goal for the English. They then lost the final to Tottenham Hotspur.


"I have no reaction to this, I'm being very careful," Anderlecht general manager Michel Verschueren told BRTN radio in the first official reaction to the sanction. "First we want to see how it is being phrased and what can be done against it."


However, the European soccer body's action surprised Anderlecht, because UEFA had already admitted that the statutory 10 year time limit for inquiries had passed. UEFA clarified that, saying the executive committee had decided to act on the basis of its Article 28 covering unforeseen circumstances.


Nottingham Forest had already announced plans to sue for 1.5 million pounds ($2.4 million) in lost revenue and to seek compensation for its former players who missed out on a lucrative appearance in the 1984 Cup final.


Club managing director Phil Soar told BBC Radio on Monday: "It does not seem to Forest that it is a particularly harsh sentence for undermining the whole moral and ethical base of competitive football."


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Steve McManaman scored a superb individual goal and England teammate Robbie Fowler grabbed his first of the premier league season as Liverpool overran Aston Villa 3-0 at Anfield.


Fowler, in the starting lineup again after injury, got the scoring under way Monday with a 56th minute penalty.


McManaman scored another in the 79th minute when he ran from inside his half with the ball, dodged retreating defenders and drove the ball to the right of goalkeeper Mark Bosnich for his third goal of the season.


German international Karl-Heinz Riedle, a late substitute for Fowler, made it 3-0 in the 88th minute.