ISSN 2330-717X

UEFA Bans Albania’s Skenderbeu For Match-Fixing

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By Gjergj Erebara

UEFA has banned Albania’s most successful football team for ten years for organizing a large-scale betting scam, and fined it one million euros.

UEFA’s ethics and disciplinary body has banned Albania’s top soccer team Skenderbeu for ten years and fined it a million euros after finding it guilty of running a large-scale betting scam following a two-year investigation.

The March 21 ruling was supposed to be secret but was leaked to the Albanian media and was accepted by the president of the team, Ardjan Takaj, who is also accused of being the mastermind behind the match-fixing scam.

Speaking in Tirana, Takaj acknowledged the decision and said the team would appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport. He expressed hopes that the decision will be reversed. “We are clean,” Takaj said.

Skenderbeu has won five championships since 2011 in Albania and qualified for the UEFA Champions League beyond the preliminary phase in 2015, becoming the first Albanian team to achieve such a feat.

However, Skenderbeu’s luck has not lasted since UEFA’s Betting Fraud Detection System in meantime flagged about 50 matches that it suspected were fixed.

Inspectors from the Ethics and Disciplinary Body filled a 93-page report in February exposing a scam that had lasted several years.

According to the report, players stopped playing in crucial game, deliberately allowing goals, enabling gamblers to scoop large rewards.

Following publication of the report, UEFA announced that its inspectors had received death threats.

“UEFA Disciplinary Inspectors working on this case have received anonymous death threats, presumably intended to intimidate them and stop them carrying out their work. These threats will not succeed and the police have also been informed,” it said.


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Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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