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Chelsea Faces Atletico in Champions Semifinal as UEFA Warns

Atletico Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois
Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois celebrates after the UEFA Champions League quarter final football match at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, on April 9, 2014. Photographer: Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images

Chelsea was warned it can’t influence whether its goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois plays against the London soccer club in a Champions League semifinal with Atletico Madrid, the team where he’s on loan.

The clubs were drawn to play each other today, with title-holder Bayern Munich facing nine-time European champion Real Madrid in the other semifinal. Less than an hour before the draw, European soccer ruling body UEFA issued a statement saying its rules “strictly forbid” a club from influencing the player selection of another team.

A clause in the Courtois loan deal requires Atletico to pay 3 million euros ($4.2 million) for each game it fields him against Chelsea, Marca reported yesterday, citing the Spanish club’s president Enrique Cerezo.

“It’s an amount we can’t afford to pay,” Cerezo said, according to the sports newspaper.

The European ruling body said in the statement that any provision in a private contract which might influence team selection was “null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned.”

Chelsea would receive a sanction if it was to enforce such a provision, UEFA added.

‘He Can Play’

“Thibaut can play against Chelsea, that was never in doubt,” Chelsea Chief Executive Officer Ron Gourlay told Sky Sports. “Regarding the UEFA statement, we’ll evaluate that in due course but as far as we’re concerned we abide by the rules. As far as the player is concerned he can play against Chelsea in both ties if selected by Atletico Madrid.”

Matches will take place on April 22/23 and 29/30 after the draw today in Nyon, Switzerland. The Champions League final is on May 24 in Lisbon.

In the second-tier Europa League, Sevilla will play Valencia and Benfica meets Juventus in the semifinals on April 24 and May 1. The final is on May 14 at the Juventus stadium in Turin, Italy.

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