Under-21 players have right to appeal

The Malta Under-21 national team players who were banned by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body over match-fixing offences related to the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Montenegro on March 23, 2016 and the Czech Republic three days later, have the right to appeal. UEFA had initiated disciplinary investigations against seven Malta Under-21 players for allegedly having infringed several provisions of Article 12 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations in connection to potential match-fixing issues related to these two games.

Manuel Briffa and Kyle Cesare were handed a lifelong ban, Samir Arab was banned for two years, Ryan Camenzuli for eighteen months and Llywelyn Cremona and Luke Montebello for one year. Decisions are with immediate effect, although in the case of Briffa and Cesare, they had been serving a temporary suspension since then. Matthew Calleja Cremona was cleared by the board.

Addressing the media on Monday, MFA General Secretary Dr Angelo Chetcuti said that the whole process was carried out by UEFA since the matches involved were under the jurisdiction of UEFA. The Malta FA had asked UEFA to act as observers as an interested party but the European body did not accept the MFA’s request.

Since the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body is a board of first instance, each of these players can submit a request to obtain the motivation of the decision within five days. After receiving the motivation, they would have three days to appeal. The cases may be eventually taken before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Dr Chetcuti expressed his disappointment and that of all football lovers following this decision. However he stressed about the need to fight back for the sake of the game.

“We need to show great determination and work hard to safeguard the game. We need to continue working to put the integrity of the game at the centre,” added Dr Chetcuti.

The MFA General Secretary admitted that although one may emphatise with the players after finding themselves in such situations, they should be well aware that in cases of match-fixing, even failure to report was a serious offence.

Kyle Cesare and Manuel Briffa were cleared of criminal charges against them in August 2016, with magistrate Joe Mifsud finding that plans to fix the match had been abandoned before the two players had ever discussed monetary compensation.

​Dr Angelo Chetcuti pointed out that there is a basic difference in the level of evidence between court and sports justice. He said that while in the criminal court, one had to prove something beyond reasonable doubt, in sports justice, it was all a matter of comfortable satisfaction – a balance of probabilities.