On Friday, UEFA handed Celtic FC a Champions League reprieve when the governing body ruled that Legia Warsaw had fielded an ineligible player during its 6-1 aggregate victory over the champions of Scotland in the third qualifying round.
The player in question, Bartosz Bereszynski, came on in the final minutes of the second leg victory over Celtic. He has previously been handed a three-match ban after a red card during last season’s Europa League campaign. Legia believed Bereszynski had served his three match ban after he missed two games against St Patrick’s Athletic as well as the first leg match against Celtic.
But the player was not included on the Polish club’s squad list that was submitted to UEFA for the matches against St Patrick’s. So the governing body ruled that his suspension had not been served.
Yesterday, Legia released an open letter addressed to Celtic on its official website requesting a meeting, which would decide who should advance to the Champions League play-off round.
But the Scottish champions have responded today and have declined Legia’s request for a winner-takes-all match.
In the open letter to Celtic officials, the Polish club’s co-owner Dariusz Mioduski said: “Celtic FC is a legend in European football – the club with an incredible tradition, which since 1888 co-creates the story of the most beautiful game in the world.”
“At the basis of this legend are not only amazing sporting achievements, but also the determination and commitment to values such as honesty and honor.”
“Celtic FC wrote one of the most beautiful pages in the history of European football, when in 1967 they unexpectedly defeated in the final of the Champions Cup mighty Inter Milan headed by Helenio Herrera.”
“Imagine that Jock Stein and Billy McNeill were deprived of the greatest triumph in their athletic career by completing the application form wrong.”
“Do not destroy the beautiful clubhouse heritage that you have left in the care of previous generations, ‘The Bhoys’. I challenge you, would you in the spirit of the game and fair play, and on the basis of Art. 34 paragraph 5 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations of Legia Warsaw took a common position on the UEFA disciplinary bodies. Meet in Warsaw or in Glasgow and let’s settle this matter honorably.”
Celtic have since replied to Legia’s request in a brief statement: “We are disappointed by Legia Warsaw’s comments. This is entirely a matter for UEFA and its processes. Accordingly, we will reserve further comment for the appropriate time.”
Celtic are scheduled to face Maribor of Slovenia in the play-off round later this month to see who will advance to the lucrative group phase of the Champions League.