UEFA prosecutors file charges against two Maltese players
Malta FA confirm first disciplinary hearing held in Nyon on Thursday
UEFA’s disciplinary inspectors have filed charges against two Maltese players in connection with match-fixing allegations surrounding the infamous Euro 2008 qualifier between Norway and Malta, sources have told The Times.
The two players, who are reportedly no longer part of the national squad, have not been named but it has emerged the UEFA inspectors are requesting a life ban for one of the accused and a two-year suspension for the other.
The members of UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body convened this week to look into claims that some Malta players accepted bribes to fix the result of their game against Norway, played on June 2, 2007 at the Ullevaal Stadium.
The Malta FA yesterday confirmed that the first hearing into the Norway-Malta probe was held on Thursday but gave no further details.
“The Malta Football Association announces that it has received communication from UEFA’s Disciplinary Office that the Control and Disciplinary Board (CDB) met on Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Nyon and it has been decided that the case about the alleged corruption in the game Norway vs Malta, be deferred until the next hearing,” the MFA statement said.
“UEFA announces that a final decision on the case has not been taken as investigations have not been concluded.
“At this stage, the Malta Football Association has nothing more to add bar that it continues to entrust the investigations related to this case in the hands of the competent authorities at UEFA.”
It was in May last year that the case came to light after Croatian fraudster Marijo Cvrtak, an ally of Ante Sapina who headed a notorious betting syndicate, testi-fied during his trial in Bochum that he had met with at least three Malta players at an Oslo hotel to rig the Norway-Malta game.
Describing his meeting with the Malta players, Cvrtak reportedly said: “I would have rather had a 5-0 (result), but the players had already agreed between them-selves.”
Norway scored three goals in the last 18 minutes for a 4-0 victory.
Upon getting wind of Cvrtak’s shocking allegations, the Malta FA promptly issued a statement saying that the necessary investigative procedures had been initiated. While the allegations were referred to the police for further investigations, the Malta FA launched its own independent probe.
The MFA left no stone unturned in its pursuit of the truth as the association’s investigators quizzed not only players and the national team’s technical staff who were part of the Malta contingent for the Norway game in 2007, but also persons who didn’t travel to Oslo but may have had relevant information about the case.
In March, the Malta FA announced that it had concluded its investigation into Cvrtak’s allegations and passed the findings, contained in a 500-page dossier, to UEFA who had requested to take over the case since the match in question fell under its jurisdiction.
While Cvrtak’s revelations of particular details are believed to have been crucial in shedding light on the alleged collusion to manipulate the Euro 2008 qualifier, the investigations conducted by two UEFA disci-plinary inspectors when they visited Malta in April, found more compelling evidence.
The UEFA inspectors inter-rogated several players who formed part of the Malta squad for the Norway game.
It is also believed that UEFA are still in contact with Sapina and Cvrtak who are awaiting the outcome of their appeal against their jail sentences.
Both are said to be fully co-operating with the UEFA prosecutors and the German police.
UEFA are treating the Norway-Malta case very seriously in line with the association’s zero-tolerance stance on match-fixing.
The decision to postpone the verdict suggests that the UEFA prosecutors are willing to probe the matter further and, according to sources, the possibility that more Malta players will be charged in connection with this case is not being excluded.
UEFA president Michel Platini has called for players implicated in match-fixing to be banned for life.
“They should not be allowed to play football anymore,” Platini told reporters during his short visit to Malta on March 31.
“This is killing the game and the players must shoulder the responsibility.
“In issues like racism, the focus is on the fans but in this case, it’s the players. This problem is touching the soul of the game.”