With Chelsea FC drawing Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals, there was a bit of business that needed clearing up regarding on loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The first reports during the quarterfinal draw claimed that UEFA allows on loan players to face their parent clubs in European competition. This week it was revealed that Chelsea and Atletico agreed to a clause in Courtois’s loan deal that specified that he could play against the Blues but that it would cost Atletico a hefty sum. Some reports claimed that the fee was in the range of 6 million pounds.
This is a significant fee that Atletico could not afford despite the possible windfall of making it to the Champions League Final being significantly greater than that cost. So the next twist in the story popped up with reports claiming that Chelsea would waive that clause to allow Thibaut Courtois to play against them, but Atletico would reduce their asking price for Diego Costa. Well now along came UEFA to ruin the fun for everyone and totally overruled the clause in the young keeper’s loan deal.
The statement from UEFA:
The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for UEFA.
Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match.
It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned.
Furthermore, 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.
It seems that UEFA is overstepping their boundaries with this decision. This is private business between two clubs concerning a player and they should not get involved unless the rights of the player or either club are being infringed upon. The clause was inserted as a method to protect Chelsea and Courtois from the uncomfortable situation of playing against his parent club. He did so in the UEFA Super Cup in 2012 but that is a glorified friendly, not the semifinals of the most important club competition in the world.
If UEFA is so bent on protecting the integrity of the game then they should not allow loan players to play against their parent clubs. Despite what it says on his jersey, Thibaut Courtois is for all intents and purposes a Chelsea player. He should not be put in a situation where his play can hurt the club that he is bound to by contract. His involvement will add another wrinkle to an already interesting tie between two clubs that already have their fair share of connections. Whatever happens in the tie however, fingers crossed that it does not sour the relationship between the clubs and that any future transfer dealings are not affected.
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