ZURICH: Swiss club FC Sion have been given a one-season ban from European competition for breaching UEFA's club licensing rules, the European soccer body said on Monday.
UEFA said that Sion had failed to declare an outstanding bill of 950,000 euros (US$1.18 million) owed to French club Sochaux when submitting documents ahead of their participation in this season's Europa League.
Clubs are not allowed to take part in European competition if they have unpaid bills to other parties.
"The club is excluded from participating in the next UEFA club competition for which it would otherwise qualify in the next two seasons (i.e. 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons)," said UEFA in a statement.
Sion were also fined 235,000 euros.
"There can be no dispute that there were overdue payables which should have been included in the financial information submitted by the club," said UEFA.
UEFA recognised that Sion, who were kicked out of the Europa League in 2011/12 for fielding ineligible players in a qualifying tie against Celtic, had made an administrative mistake, rather than deliberately concealing the unpaid bill.
UEFA, however, said its financial board had "stressed on a number of occasions that a club’s disclosures have to be “correct” and “accurate”, otherwise the whole club licensing and financial fair play system would be undermined."
Sion entered this season's Europa League in the third qualifying round and were immediately eliminated 4-1 on aggregate by Lithuania's Suduva Marijampole.
Sion are currently ninth out of 10 teams in the Swiss Super League and fighting relegation although they are still only nine points off the European places.
Sion president Christian Constantin was banned for nine months - later reduced to five on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport - for punching a television commentator who had criticised him in September.
Kazakh club FC Irtysh were also given a one-season ban, however UEFA said this had been suspended for a probationary period of three seasons. The club was fined 435,000 euros.
UEFA said that it had withheld 215,000 euros of Europa League participation bonuses from both Serbian club FC Vojvodina and Albania's KF Tirana for breaching licensing rules.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by Toby Davis)