Albania’s sole Europa League contenders face 10-year ban threat over match-fixing

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 16, 2018 13:50

Albania’s sole Europa League contenders face 10-year ban threat over match-fixing

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  • Emilio Garcia, the head of the UEFA disciplinary and integrity unit, had earlier warned the one-year ban for Skenderbeu was only a 'preliminary ban and that the UEFA disciplinary bodies were considering real disciplinary measures."

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TIRANA, Feb. 16 – Albania’s most successful club of the past decade, Skenderbeu, risk facing a ten-year ban from European competition as part of an ongoing investigation into match-fixing allegations by European football’s governing body, UEFA.

The new probe comes after Skenderbeu were already handed a one-year ban from European competition for the 2016-2017 campaign on match-fixing allegations.

UEFA’s ethics and disciplinary inspectors are now seeking a ten-year ban from the Champions League and Europa League campaigns for Skenderbeu as well a €1 million fine, in what would be one of the harshest punishments in European history.

Back in 2010, Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a UEFA eight-year Europe-wide ban on Macedonian club FC Pobeda for match-fixing over a single 2004 Champions League tie with an Armenian club.

Emilio Garcia, the head of the UEFA disciplinary and integrity unit, had earlier warned the one-year ban for Skenderbeu was only a ‘preliminary ban and that the UEFA disciplinary bodies were considering real disciplinary measures.”

“The numbers don’t lie and the betting patterns don’t lie,” the UEFA lawyer had warned.

UEFA banned Skenderbeu over match fixing allegations in two Champions League qualifiers and two Europa League group-stage games in 2015. The European football’s governing body suspects Skenderbeu who have dominated Albanian football in the past six years could have also been involved in fixing around 50 domestic matches since 2011.

“The case affirms the reliability of UEFA’s betting fraud detection system in identifying abnormal betting patterns on matches played by the Albanian club at European and domestic levels,” UEFA said in mid-2016 after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld its one-year ban.

Reacting to the new UEFA probe, Skenderbeu said the new proceedings were an appeal by UEFA inspectors to a decision made two years ago on Skenderbeu and not a new case against the club.

“This is an ongoing disciplinary case on which no hearing session has yet been set. Skenderbeu have already been aware of these charges by the disciplinary inspectors and we are confident the case will successfully conclude,” the club said in a statement.

Back in mid-2017, Albania’s football association also stripped Skenderbeu of their 2015-2016 Superliga title over UEFA’s match fixing allegations, cutting their six straight titles to five.

Skenderbeu have appealed the decision with the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Korça-based club are the only Albanian club to have made it to the UEFA Europa League group stage, with two appearances in the past three years.

Skenderbeu are favourites to win this year’s domestic Superliga title with a comfortable 11-point lead over second placed Flamurtari.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 16, 2018 13:50