Albanias leading club, Skenderbeu, are accused in a leaked Uefa report of having routinely manipulated games for betting purposes and may be banned for an unprecedented 10 years
In Korce they love their football team and that is why, on 21 February, thousands of the Albanian city's dwellers gathered to sing for Skenderbeu. The rally stretched far down the main avenue, one poster standing out among scarves and flags. Its message was clear:” Do not kill our dream .”
Everything Skenderbeu have achieved is on the verge of being discredited by the most extraordinary match-fixing inquiry of all time. A leaked Uefa report has recommended the six-times national champions, who competed in the Europa League group stage this season, are prohibited from its competitions for an unprecedented 10 years; if the governing body's control, ethics and disciplinary body concurs, almost a decade of progress will come to a shuddering halt.
Uefa has not built such reports, written by two of its ethics and disciplinary inspectors, public but it has circulated widely in Albania and has been find by the Guardian. It brought the population of Korce on to the streets and its contents are damning. It concludes Skenderbeu” has been fixing football matches like nobody has ever done before in the history of the game”, alleging the club have essentially operated as a vehicle for organised crime, and shines a light on the detail that underpins Uefa's match-fixing inquiries. Uefa did not corroborate or deny the document's authenticity.
Skenderbeu have previously received punishment for match-fixing, a year-long suspension from European rivalry served in 2016 -1 7. That was upheld by the court of arbitration for athletic( Cas ), as an” administrative measure” in a two-step Uefa process; the present investigation sorts the second stage and is part of a more serious” disciplinary measure “.
The suspension came after Uefa's betting fraud detection system( BFDS) identified 53 matches involving Skenderbeu- spanning friendlies, domestic fixtures and European club competitions- allegedly manipulated for betting intents between November 2010 and April 2016. The lawsuit focused on four games: two from the 2015 -1 6Champions League qualifying rounds and two from that season's Europa League group phase. Skenderbeu were, based largely on the BFDS's processes, banned. The new report adds fresh evidence from a panel of coach-and-fours while employing an external company to reconfirm its findings in an effort to press the case for a most severe punishment.
Skenderbeu are accused of” manipulation attempts to obtain criminal betting gains on a stunning global scale”, earning millions of dollars. The report alleges the club have” no respect for the integrity of the game” and that they contrived a highly organised structure intended to harvest huge sums through lottery. It is an accusation the club have denied.
” KF Skenderbeu's legal department is following the necessary procedures for the questions in question and carries confidence that the instance will be closed successfully ,” read part of a statement on Facebook after the report's existence became known.
The report argues two group stage games, at Sporting Lisbon and at home to Lokomotiv Moscow, are of particular concern. Skenderbeu lost 5-1 and 3-0 respectively, both matches' outcomes following rapidly intensifying betting patterns virtually to the letter.
The former insured a commotion of” exuberant and illogical” wagers built for six or more goals to be scored with Sporting 4-0 up late on; the latter, according to the report, became subject to a rush of highly suspicious, and accurate, wagers when Skenderbeu were a aim down with five minutes left. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing from Skenderbeu's opponents.
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