Cloak of secrecy for Man City's court challenge to UEFA ban

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FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, Real Madrid's Isco, right, duels for the ball with Manchester City's Kyle Walker during the Champions League, round of 16, first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. Manchester Citys appeal against a two-year ban from European soccer will be heard over three days in June. The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it has set aside June 8-10 for the case. It is unclear if a hearing will be held in person at the court or by video link. No timetable was set for a verdict but a ruling is needed before English teams enter next seasons Champions League draw. Man City was banned by UEFA in February for serious breaches of financial monitoring rules and failing to cooperate with investigators. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

GENEVA – A rare level of secrecy cloaks the court case opening Monday to decide if Manchester City will stay banned from European competition for two seasons.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has scheduled three days at an undisclosed location for an appeal hearing by video conference link connecting lawyers in Switzerland and England.

The Lausanne-based court said on Friday both City and UEFA requested confidentiality for the case. Neither party commented to The Associated Press.

The identities of the three CAS judges — selected by each side and the court — have also been protected in an intensely scrutinized legal fight.

The allegations include that City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s royal family, misled UEFA over several years to comply with financial integrity rules for clubs.

The stakes are high in a case that provokes the tribal loyalties of club soccer and the distrust some fans have for sports ruling bodies.

If City’s appeal fails, it faces losing hundreds of millions of dollars in UEFA prize money and some star players during a two-year exile from world soccer’s most prized club competition.

Defeat for UEFA would undermine the Financial Fair Play (FFP) policy it says helps stabilize the soccer economy across 55 member nations.