- Champions League
UEFA threaten Chelsea with sanctions if Courtois sits out
Chelsea have been warned by UEFA that they could face sanctions if Thibaut Courtois is not allowed to play for Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final tie between the two clubs.
Belgian goalkeeper Courtois is on loan from Chelsea and has been key to helping Atletico to the last four of Europe's elite competition for the first time since 1974. Friday's draw, almost inevitably, pitted the two clubs against each later this month, with the first leg at the Vicente Calderon in Madrid on Tuesday April 22 and the return leg at Stamford Bridge eight days later.
However, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo claimed this week that a clause existed in the loan agreement between the clubs prohibiting the Belgium international from playing should they meet, unless there was the payment of a large penalty sum - believed to be around £2.5m per match - which the financially troubled La Liga outfit could not afford to pay.
But European football's ruling body released a statement on Friday morning, just ahead of the semi-final draw, saying that any such clauses were against the "integrity of sporting competition" and were "null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA was concerned".
"Any attempt to enforce such a provision would be a clear violation of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations and would therefore be sanctioned accordingly," the statement confirmed.
Courtois himself has regularly gone on record to say he would be happy to play in any game against Chelsea and is yet to confirm where he sees his future lying beyond the end of the season, despite intimating last week that a decision was imminent. Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho had said earlier this year that the club would not sell Courtois in the summer.
Players have faced their parent club in the Champions League previously. Fernando Morientes scored for Monaco as they defeated his parent club Real Madrid in the 2004 quarter-finals, while earlier this season Mo Bangura played in both legs of a Champions League qualifier for Elfsborg against parent club Celtic.
The Premier League frequently sees players sitting out when their loan and parent clubs face each other in the competition as the rules of the competition do not prevent such an agreement between two clubs.
Ironically, Courtois has already played for Atletico Madrid against Chelsea in European competition - the Super Cup final of 2012 when Atletico won 4-1 against the then European champions in Monaco.