LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Georgian soccer club Dinamo Tbilisi lost its appeal at sport’s highest court against UEFA punishments for fans displaying a banner judged to be neo-Nazi.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Wednesday its judges upheld a UEFA ruling for “racist behavior” by fans at a Europa League game in 2019.
UEFA prosecuted the case with evidence from its anti-discrimination partner Fare, whose delegate worked at Dinamo’s game in the qualifying rounds against Gabala of Azerbaijan.
Dinamo fans showed a flag in club colors with the number “88,” widely linked to a Nazi slogan where the numbers signify ‘H’ as the eighth letter of the alphabet.
The flag included “19” in smaller numbers and the English phrase “Old School.”
The club argued “1988 Old School” was “the name of the group of the team supporters and that it did not intend to promote any form of Nazi propaganda.”
The CAS ruling by three judges noted “the banner’s clear and objective racist meaning” and that UEFA had charged Dinamo in a similar case the previous season.
UEFA’s order to play a Europa League game in an empty stadium was served when Dinamo hosted Feyenoord in 2019.
The club, which won the 1981 European Cup Winners’ Cup title, was also fined 50,000 euros ($61,000).
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