The Court for Arbitration in sport in Lausanne will begin hearing the appeal of two leading Ukrainian football teams on Tuesday against points deductions and other sanctions imposed by its domestic football federation over an allegedly fixed game four years ago.
The case has drawn battle lines between football-loving Ukrainian oligarchs and threatens to embarrass the country ahead of its moment in the spotlight this June when it will co-host Euro 2012 with neighboring Poland. Ukrainian football has taken strides in recent years, with an influx of cash from rich businessmen funding the rise of teams such as Shakhtar Donetsk, which reached the quarterfinals of the Champions league last year. But the sport in Ukraine has long been riven by divides between the powerful oligarchs, which led to warnings it could be stripped of Euro 2012 last year amid attempts to oust Football Federation of Ukraine President Hryhoriy Surkis, who is a member of tournament organizer UEFA’s executive committee. The FFU ruled in August 2010 that a Ukrainian Premier League match between Metalist and Karpaty in 2008 had been fixed.