By Paul Nicholson
April 2 – Albania’s leading club KF Skënderbeu has been issued with a 10-year ban from European competition by UEFA for matchfixing.
Club president Ardjan Takaj has said they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and failing that appeal will take the case to the Swiss federal court.
Skënderbeu were also handed a €1 million fine for fixing more than 50 matches.
Skenderbeu were given a year-long suspension from European competition served in 2016-17 for matchfixing. That decision was upheld by CAS.
During the recent UEFA investigation, confederation and outside investigators received death threats with one reportedly receiving a bullet in the post. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin issued a statement saying UEFA would not be intimidated by third parties and gave “100%” support to investigators.
“We will never allow UEFA staff working on these matters, or any other matters, to be subject to threats or intimidation from any third parties. They have the full backing of the organisation, including 100% personal support from me,” said Ceferin.
UEFA’s ban is predominantly based on information from its betting fraud detection system (BFDS) which identified 53 matches involving Skenderbeu – including in European club competitions – which allegedly manipulated for betting gain between November 2010 and April 2016. The case focused on four games: two from the 2015-16 Champions League qualifying rounds and two from that season’s Europa League group phase. UEFA, after the first ban on Skenderbeu, issued a report adding fresh evidence from a panel of coaches as well as using an external company to reconfirm its findings.
The report was leaked in Albania causing fury amongst fans and officials of the six times Albanian champion club.
The report spoke of “manipulation attempts to obtain criminal betting profits on a stunning global scale” and the club having “no respect for the integrity of the game”.
Skenderbeu have repeatedly denied the allegations saying there is no evidence of organised crime and that they will contest all accusations.
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