Betting patterns ahead of last week's Malta World Cup qualifier against Lithuania revealed overwhelming evidence that Malta would lose the game by at least two goals, Malta Football Association president Norman Darmanin Demajo said today.
News that the match had been flagged as high-risk by FIFA betting monitors was broken earlier today by Times of Malta. Malta lost the match in Vilnius 0-2, with the goals both coming in final 15 minutes.
The MFA president said suspicious betting continued to be registered up to 20 minutes before the end of the game.
A FIFA commissioner spoke with both teams' players in their dressing rooms before the match - something Mr Darmanin Demajo said he thought was unwarranted, as it distracted players from the match ahead.
MFA president to meet national team
Mr Darmanin Demajo also said he will meet national team players to hear their grievances about the national team setup.
Coaches will not be present for the meeting, the MFA president said as he announced the meeting at a press conference held this afternoon.
Mr Darmanin Demajo's announcement comes after national team forward Andre Schembri prompted a national debate with his post-match comments following Malta's loss to England at Wembley.
"I'll give you the same reaction I always give: We lost. And in 20 years' time you will interview another player and we will once again say 'we lost'," an irritated Schembri said.
The forward blamed "those who lead Maltese football" for the national team's lack of progress.
Mr Darmanin Demajo admitted that unless things changed, the situation would probably be same in 20 years' time. "But that doesn't mean I and the MFA are going to give up," he added.
The MFA president bemoaned the fact that the local championship was a part-time one, adding that the national team was playing in a full-time professional league and that Malta, on paper, was the weakest team in the group.
He said a lot of work had been done to boost the youth sector, with several young players having had trials overseas, but for some reason few were engaged by foreign clubs' youth academies.
The MFA president invited clubs with any ideas of how to improve local football to come forward with their suggestions.