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Fulham gets Fair Play spot in Europa League
Te Guardian, May 26th, 2011 12:57PM

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Assuming he's not transferred to another club during the summer signing window, U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey will return to the Europa League with Fulham next season. UEFA confirmed that the additional slot allotted to English teams in the competition would be filled by Fulham, whose disciplinary record ranked best of all possible candidates despite a red card incurred in the final game of the season, a 2-2 tie with Arsenal.

In the Premier League Fair Play rankings, Fulham placed fourth behind Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United; all three teams had already qualified for European competitions. The extra Europa League slot was awarded after calculations placed England second among UEFA nations using Fair Play criteria. Fulham finished eighth in the Premier League standings.

Dempsey scored one of the best goals in the competition's history last year as Fulham defeated Juventus, 4-1, at Craven Cottage to advance, 5-4, on aggregate to the quarterfinals. In the 83rd minute of the second leg with the aggregate tied, 4-4, he chipped a ball from the edge of the penalty area that floated into the top corner.

As a Fair Play qualifier, Fulham must play its first Europa League match on June 30, six weeks before the start of the Premier League season and just five days after the Gold Cup final.

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