The Malta Football Association, Gzira United and Mosta FC issued statements following allegations which appeared in an article on Sunday weekly il-mument over the BOV Premier League Play-Off between Mosta and Gzira United.
In his article, Joe Mikallef alleged that sources involved in the game told him that one or persons within the association are “suspected and involved, directly or indirectly” in match-fixing. It is also alleged that players are being bribed on a regular basis in connection with betting locally and abroad.
The MFA stated that a few days before the play-off between Mosta FC and Gżira United FC, officials from the two clubs approached the MFA Integrity Officer telling him that they had suspicions that their players were being offered money to lose the game. These declarations were based on suspicions and no evidence was presented. Gżira United FC president Sharlon Pace asked the association to see whether it was possible to intervene so that the game was not listed by betting companies to avoid betting on the game. The association discussed the matter with its partners in the betting industry and these advised betting companies not to list the game as precaution.
The MFA informed the Police with these developments and agreed with the association in taking steps to encourage betting companies not to list the game.
Meanwhile the Malta Gaming Authority received a letter from Gzira United saying that the club had suspicions that the game would be the target of match-fixing and that the game would end with a 3-2 result. The Malta Gaming Authority was not provided by any evidence but still took necessary action so that the game was not listed by betting companies.
The MFA stressed that the fight against corruption in football was always a priority for the association and it had set up a task-force together with the Government, the Opposition, Police, MGA and KMS to address the problem. However the MFA and its partners, including Police cannot just act on speculations.
The statement by the MFA Administration asks Joe Mikallef to provide immediately any evidence he may have to the Police or withdraw the allegations if these allegations were only based on speculation. Otherwise the MFA would take all the neccessary steps to safeguard the integrity of its officials and clubs.
In a statement signed by Gzira United president Sharlon Pace, Gzira said that the club disassociated itself from the allegations in the article.
Gzira United confirmed that club officials met MFA Integrity Officer Franz Tabone on the eve of the game to ask the association to make sure that the game is played in a sporting spirit. They also confirmed that they had asked betting companies not to list the game in order to reduce the possibility of any wrong-doing. The club however denied that the figure of €30,000 was mentioned as alleged in the article.
Gzira United stated that it was their duty to inform the association with any suspicion of corruption and that they were satisfied with the support and the way Franz Tabone handled the issue.
In another statement, signed by Mosta FC president George Galea, Mosta FC denied any allegations that they could have been involved in any wrong-doing. Mosta FC stressed that they are against any kind of corruption in the traditional way or illegal betting.
The club said that four days before the game, George Galea set up a meeting with Franz Tabone over rumours which the club felt it was due to report to the MFA Integrity Officer.
Mosta FC stressed that they have always supported Franz Tabone and the assocation in their fight against any kind of match-fixing and that people involved in such cases will never receive any support from the club.