A former national team footballer was yesterday found guilty of match-fixing in the Malta vs Norway match five years ago.
Kevin Sammut, who is on Valletta FC’s books, was banned from playing football for 10 years.
Stephen Wellman, who plays for Qormi FC, and Kenneth Scicluna, also on Valletta’s books, were cleared of the same charges because of lack of evidence.
The decision was handed down late yesterday by UEFA, the European football body.
UEFA’s verdict was communicated to the press by the Malta Football Association (MFA), which said that FIFA would be asked to extend Mr Sammut’s 10-year ban “so as to give it a worldwide effect”.
The three players were in the starting line-up of the Euro 2008 qualifier match against Norway, which Malta lost 4-0 in Oslo.
Mr Wellman, at the time a Marsaxlokk player, and Mr Scicluna, who then played for Birkirkara, played the whole 90 minutes while Mr Sammut, who played for Marsaxlokk, was substituted at half-time.
The allegations against the three players first surfaced during the German trial of Croat Mario Cvrtak in May last year.
Mr Cvrtak, the mastermind of what has been described as Europe’s biggest match-fixing scandal, alleged in court that he had met the three players in a hotel before the match. It is unclear how much money the players were paid to throw the game.
Malta had, for most of the match, coped well with the pressure inflicted by the Norwegians but slumped in the closing stages and conceded three late goals.
The Malta-Norway match was one of many other rigged matches in a betting scandal that saw the Croatian ring rake in millions of euros in profit.
The MFA had initiated its own investigations after obtaining the transcript of Mr Cvrtak’s testimony last October.
The football association concluded its probe in March and sent its findings to UEFA’s control and disciplinary board to determine whether enough grounds existed for disciplinary action to be taken.
The MFA had also passed on its investigation to the police but no criminal proceedings have yet been taken.
It is unclear whether the proof is strong enough to stand in a court of law where the accused has to be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Mr Cvrtak yesterday testified at the final UEFA hearing.
The Maltese players and their lawyers were also present but sources said some witnesses produced by the defendants were not allowed to testify.
• June 2, 2007
Norway beat Malta 4-0 in a European Championship qualifier at the Ullevaal Stadium, Oslo. For most of the match, Malta held tight but then conceded three goals in the last 17 minutes.
• May 12, 2011
Maltese football is rocked by match-fixing allegations after it emerges that the national team’s Euro 2008 qualifier away to Norway may have been rigged by a notorious Croatian betting syndicate. Malta Football Association (MFA) opens investigation.
• May 13, 2011
Former national team coach Dusan Fitzel says he is shocked at the news that Norway-Malta had been dragged into the match-fixing scandal. He was in charge of the national team for the Euro Championship qualifier in Oslo.
• May 19, 2011
Ring-leaders Ante Sapina and Marijo Cvrtak are sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail by a court in Bochum for their part in the scandal that spread across all parts of Europe.
• October 2011
The MFA obtain transcripts of the testimony given during the match-fixing trial in Bochum where Marijo Cvrtak alleged that he had bribed four Malta players to throw the Euro 2008 qualifier against Norway.
• January 2012
Malta police say they are unable to find any evidence to incriminate any national team players in their probe. No significant amount of money was deposited in their accounts or those of their families, reports said.
• March 2012
The MFA complete their probe into the alleged match-fixing case but decide to send their findings to UEFA for them to see whether enough grounds exist to take disciplinary actions against those involved.
• April 2012
UEFA have a zero-tolerance stand on match-fixing, especially where players are concerned, the organisation’s president Michel Platini tells reporters during a visit to Malta while fielding a question about the Norway-Malta case.
• May 2012
The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Board postpones the case hearing to its next meeting as investigations are still underway.
• June 2012
UEFA’s disciplinary inspectors file charges against two unnamed Maltese players allegedly involved in the Oslo match, the result of which was manipulated.
• July 2012
MFA reveals a third Maltese player has been charged in connection with match-fixing allegations.
• August 2012
UEFA finds Kevin Sammut guilty of bribery charges in the 2007 Norway-Malta match and is banned for 10 years. Former national team players Stephen Wellman and Kenneth Scicluna are cleared due to lack of evidence.
Additional reporting Jesmond Dalli.
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