Osasuna, of Spanish soccer’s top-tier LaLiga, are set to compete in next season’s third-tier pan-European Europa Conference League (ECL) after governing body UEFA concluded the club should not be punished for historic match-fixing by former club officials 10 years ago.

UEFA initially banned Osasuna from participating in the competition for the 2023-24 campaign earlier this month due to former club officials having been implicated in a match-fixing scandal between 2012 and 2014, which led to convictions in 2020.

At the time of the ban, the club said it would seek all legal avenues “to stand up to UEFA and put an end to what it considers a serious violation of its rights” including taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Following the CAS proceedings, Osasuna announced yesterday (July 25) that UEFA had accepted the club’s arguments that they were victims of a crime as opposed to the perpetrators, having initially notified authorities €2.3 million ($2.5 million) had gone missing from club funds, leading to an investigation.

In a statement, the club said: “In view of the new evidence provided by the club in defense of its participation in the competition, UEFA has concluded that Osasuna was a victim of the events that took place almost a decade ago and has appreciated the initiative taken by the institution to shed light on them.

“Consequently, UEFA considers Osasuna eligible to participate in the current edition of the European competition.”

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UEFA later said: “Following the opening of CAS proceedings, evidence was submitted by Osasuna which it was not in a position to file at an earlier stage.

“UEFA reviewed this material and concluded that Osasuna has not been involved in match-fixing activities in the meaning of Article 4.02 UECLR. Accordingly, the club shall be considered eligible to participate in the 2023-24 UECL for which it sportingly qualified.”

Osasuna qualified for the ECL playoffs by finishing seventh in the 2022-23 LaLiga season. UEFA’s initial decision would have seen eighth-placed Athletic Bilbao take Osasuna’s place in the competition.

Last month, UEFA announced its third-tier competition will be renamed Conference League from the 2024-25 season.

Osasuna have not qualified for a UEFA competition since the 2006-07 season, when they reached the semi-finals of the old UEFA Cup, now known as the Europa League.

Earlier this year, Osasuna announced four partnership agreements as part of a continued effort to boost their commercial portfolio.

The club was in crisis in the early part of the 2010s, only escaping relegation to the Spanish third tier via a last-minute goal on the final day of the 2014-15 campaign, a year after having lost their LaLiga status.

Read more about Osasuna's rebuilding efforts since then in a GlobalData Sport interview with chief executive Fran Canal.

Image: Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images