The issue of match fixing and corruption remains of high importance within European and indeed World football.
While FIFPro is continuing to lead the fight against any form of manipulation in professional football by supporting various initiatives aimed at educating players within this area, it has been concerned by recent events surrounding a Maltese player.
Kevin Sammut (pictured) has been suspended for ten years by UEFA for his involvement in match fixing, having been accused by a former member of a gambling syndicate which was convicted by a German court in 2011. It was suggested that Sammut had manipulated the outcome of an International match between Norway and Malta in 2007, which the latter lost by four goals to nil.
Despite the player denying any involvement and maintaining his innocence UEFA decided upon the ten year expulsion. FIFPro is concerned with regards these legal proceedings and unsure whether UEFA is sufficiently equipped for such a trial, as in its legal procedure UEFA has fewer possibilities than the normal authorities, especially in respect of summoning/hearing witnesses and reviewing evidence. Consequently, the legal procedure can be less than thorough.
FIFPro is therefore troubled by the severity of the sanction imposed upon Kevin Sammut, as given that the average duration of a professional footballer’s career is around ten years it is in effect ending a professional career.
In addition, FIFPro would also allude to the fact that a footballer does not often take the initiative in match fixing. Evidence has continually shown that the player is often a victim, having been subjected to physical or mental pressure by a third (criminal) party.
For complete clarity, FIFPro emphasises its stance on match fixing and its efforts to protect football from this threat but continues to argue for a fairer legal procedure with proportionate sanctions for any footballer alleged to be involved.
From a PFA Scotland perspective, we are continuing to educate professional players across the country on issues of sports betting through our Gambling Awareness Project. This is shortly to be supported by the launch of an online tutorial which will provide further information for players on this issue.