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Players quizzed over betting scam

Players and officials from the first division league have been questioned in a fresh match-fixing case investigation connected to a betting network, The Sunday Times has learnt.

The probe hinges on allegations of attempted bribery in the lead up to Friday’s first division game between Gżira and Naxxar, who are tipped as favourites for promotion this season.

However, sources said the investigations indicate the case goes beyond football, adding the basis of the suspected bribery is connected to an established betting network.

No arrests have been made so far but investigators believe they will conclude the probe soon. Charges are expected to follow.

The news comes after the sport was rocked by the 10-year ban slapped on Valletta player Kevin Sammut who was found guilty by the European football federation, Uefa, of match-fixing during the Malta versus Norway Euro 2008 qualifier.

Two other players facing the charges, Stephen Wellman and Kenneth Scicluna, were cleared in the same proceedings last month. However, Uefa’s disciplinary inspector has appealed against the decision and is also seeking to convert Mr Sammut’s 10-year ban into a lifetime ban.

The midfielder will himself be appealing against the ruling on Tuesday.

The allegations against the three players first surfaced during the German trial of Croat betting syndicate Mario Cvrtak in May last year.

Mr Cvrtak, one of the masterminds of what has been described as Europe’s biggest match-fixing scandal, alleged in court he had met the players in a hotel before the match.

It was one of many allegedly rigged matches cited in the betting scandal.

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