Court upholds Albanian club’s 10-year UEFA ban for fixing

GENEVA (AP) — The longest ban ever imposed on a club by UEFA for match-fixing linked to betting scams has been upheld by sport’s highest court.

The years-long case was resolved Friday after an investigation that implicated a former finance minister of Albania and the Skenderbeu club president, and saw UEFA reveal its staff were subjected to death threats.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed Skenderbeu’s appeal against a 10-year exclusion from European competitions.

CAS said its judging panel “found to its comfortable satisfaction that Skenderbeu was responsible for match-fixing activities” in domestic and continental matches.

The judges agreed UEFA’s 10-year ban and fine of 1 million euros ($1.13 million) “were proportionate and justified.”

The club’s appeal was heard in Switzerland in April in relative secrecy after UEFA investigators received death threats during their work.

Using evidence of betting patterns, UEFA investigators found suspected fixing of two Champions League qualifying games and two Europa League group-stage games in 2015.

UEFA also suspected Skenderbeu of helping fix around 50 domestic matches since 2011.

Skenderbeu won seven Albanian league titles in the past decade.

UEFA previously suspended Skenderbeu from the 2016-17 Champions League as an interim punishment pending a fuller investigation.

That one-year ban was upheld in a previous CAS judgment which revealed details of UEFA’s investigation.

UEFA raised concern about the club’s ties to betting companies, and the influence of Ridvan Bode, a former government finance minister, and club president Ardjan Takaj.

After one Champions League qualifying game against Crusaders, the Northern Ireland club’s goalkeeper wrote about his suspicions on Twitter.

UEFA also implicated players who it said gave an “extremely questionable defensive performance,” including one defender who was later banned for two years for a positive doping test.

Source: FOX Sport

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