The Malta FA are looking into claims that a player was offered a bribe.The Malta FA are looking into claims that a player was offered a bribe.

Speculation that a player received an approach to throw a Premier League game has triggered a probe by the Malta FA Integrity Office.

The investigation centres on the first-round meeting between relegation strugglers Naxxar Lions and St Andrew’s, played at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on October 31.

According to information obtained by Times of Malta, the Malta FA Integrity Office, spearheaded by Franz Tabone, launched the probe as soon as they got wind of the rumours of the alleged match-fixing approach.

Naxxar came from behind to take the three points after beating St Andrew’s 2-1 in a generally balanced encounter.

A number of persons, including the player at the centre of these rumours, coaches and club officials, have already been spoken to by Tabone in a bid to gather more information and establish the veracity of the allegations which surfaced only a few days after the match.

The president of one of the two clubs concerned reportedly requested an urgent meeting with Tabone last week after being made aware of the allegations swirling around the league match involving his team.

Inquiries are still on-going.

At this stage, the investigating officers are believed to have found no evidence that the Naxxar Lions-St Andrew’s game may have fallen victim to illegal gambling but SportRadar have been asked to provide information on the betting patterns related to the match.

Betting risks

SportRadar is a key partner in the Malta FA’s fight against bribery in football as the Swiss-based company regularly monitors betting patterns for domestic games with a view to preventing and detecting betting-related fraud and match-fixing.

Meanwhile, the listing of a match from the Malta FA Youth League on leading betting website bet365 has caused widespread concern.

Online punters were able to place bets on the Section A game between San Ġwann and Ħamrun Spartans, played on Wednesday evening at the Sirens Stadium, St Paul’s Bay.

Since it’s somewhat uncommon that betting companies offer odds on a Maltese youth game, the inclusion of the Ħamrun Spartans-San Ġwann match on bet365’s list was inevitably greeted with scepticism, locally.

Times of Malta is informed that, since betting on sports events is legal, there is very little the local authorities, namely the Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta Football Association, can do to prevent online betting companies from inviting bets on youth games.

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