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Samir Arab’s appeal against two-year ban not upheld by CAS

FIFPro says ban disproportionate and unfair

Samir Arab (left) in action during Malta U-21’s qualifier against Montenegro in March 2016.

Samir Arab (left) in action during Malta U-21’s qualifier against Montenegro in March 2016.

The Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal lodged by former Malta Under 21 player Samir Arab against a two-year suspension issued by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body last year.

Arab was one of six Malta Under 21 players sanctioned by UEFA for their involvement in a match-fixing approach ahead of the European Championship qualifiers against Montenegro and the Czech Republic, both played in March 2016.

Balzan defender Arab was sanctioned by UEFA’s disciplinary panel after he was found guilty of not reporting the match-fixing attempt.

Emanuel Briffa was handed a life ban while Kyle Cesare, who initially was also given the same sanction, saw his suspension reduced to ten years after a UEFA appeal.

Ryan Camenzuli was banned for a year-and-a-half while Llywelyn Cremona and Luke Montebello were handed a one-year ban.

Arab lodged a complaint against the decision but it was rejected by the UEFA Appeals Board. He then took his case in front of the Court of Arbitration of Sport in Switzerland which has also dismissed the player’s request.

In a statement, issued earlier this week, UEFA welcomed the decision by the CAS to uphold a two-year ban on Arab who will now return to competitive football in 2019.

Meanwhile, FIFPro, the world players’ union, issued a statement and said that Arab’s ban was completely disproportionate and unfair.

“The ban follows a UEFA investigation into two European Championship Under 21 qualifying matches in March 2016, which eventually were not manipulated because several Maltese players who were approached – including Samir Arab – refused to take part in match-fixing,” the FIFPro statement said.

“FIFPro believes that a two-year ban in Samir Arab’s case is completely disproportionate and unfair.”

UEFA decision

The union said that it did not understand UEFA’s decision to start disciplinary proceedings against the player in first place.

“Although Samir Arab admits he did not immediately report the match-fixing approach to UEFA or the Malta Football Association, only three weeks after the incidents occurred he cooperated fully with a police investigation in Malta and testified in court against the instigator of the match-fixing plot,” FIFPro said.

“The Maltese court which sentenced the plot instigator to prison described Samir Arab as a ‘very important witness’. Both the police investigation and Samir Arab’s testimony in court preceded UEFA’s disciplinary charges by approximately one year.

“FIFPro finds it extraordinary that a fully cooperative witness in criminal procedures can more than one year later be punished by UEFA with a two-year ban from all football-related activities, preventing him from even training with his club.”

FIFPro added that it has constantly raised concerns about the proper education of young players and has advocated for witness-protection for players who report match-fixing approaches – two prerequisites fundamental in the fight against match-fixing.

“We believe that these prerequisites were missing at the time of the events giving rise to these sanctions,” the statement said.

FIFPro said it supports vigorous measures by football authorities to stamp out match-fixing but were calling for a more measured and reasonable approach so players like Samir Arab are not punished as part of these efforts.

“This must not happen especially when players are providing substantial assistance in convicting the real criminals,” FIFPro said.

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