August 23 – The international players’ union FIFPro has taken UEFA to task over a two-year ban imposed for matchfixing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Maltese under-21 international Samir Arab.
Earlier this week UEFA welcomed CAS’ ruling which upheld the decision of UEFA’s own appeals body but FIFPro says the punishment – handed down for not reporting a matchfixing attempt – was totally unjustified and failed to take into account the circumstances of the case.
The fact that the player refused to take part in any rigging, says FIFPro, renders the ban “completely disproportionate and unfair” since he openly testified against the instigator of the plot.
“Indeed, FIFPro does not understand UEFA’s decision to start disciplinary proceedings against the player in the first place.”
A FIFPro statement explained: “Although Samir Arab admits he did not immediately report the match-fixing approach to UEFA or the Malta Football Association, only three weeks after the incidents occurred he cooperated fully with a police investigation in Malta and testified in court against the instigator of the match-fixing plot, an individual with a criminal record who had already been banned from football for previous match-fixing attempts.”
The fact that Arab’s testimony in court preceded UEFA’s disciplinary charges by about a year, FIFPro said, made it “extraordinary that a fully cooperative witness in criminal procedures can more than one year later be punished by UEFA with a two-year ban from all football-related activities, preventing him from even training with his club.”
“FIFPro has constantly raised concerns about the proper education of young players and has advocated for witness-protection for players who report match-fixing approaches – two prerequisites fundamental in the fight against match-fixing. FIFPro believes that these prerequisites were missing at the time of the events giving rise to these sanctions.”
“While FIFPro supports vigorous measures by football authorities to stamp out match-fixing, we are calling for a more measured and reasonable approach so players like Samir Arab are not unfairly and disproportionately punished as part of these efforts, especially not when they are providing substantial assistance in convicting the real criminals.”
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