Albanian champions Skenderbeu, already banned from European competition over alleged match-fixing, could face further sanctions, a leading UEFA official said on Wednesday.
Emilio Garcia, head of UEFA’s disciplinary and integrity unit, said it was a landmark case as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) had accepted UEFA evidence which was based partly on irregular betting patterns.
Skenderbeu were given a one-year ban from European competition in June but Garcia said that was an administrative decision and investigations were continuing with the possibility of further sanctions.
The club, Albanian champions for the last six seasons, appealed to CAS shortly after the ban was imposed but lost.
“The case affirms the reliability of UEFA’s betting fraud detection system (BFDS) in identifying abnormal betting patterns on matches played by the Albanian club at European and domestic levels,” said UEFA at the time.
Match-fixing is usually instigated by criminal gangs who bribe players or referees to manipulate a game and make thousands or millions of dollars by betting on the outcome.
UEFA and global soccer body FIFA monitor betting patterns to alert them to possible cases.
Giving some rare insight into a match-fixing investigation, Garcia said Skenderbeu could have been involved in up to 50 cases of match-fixing domestically in the last few years.
Speaking at the International Sports Convention in Geneva, he said UEFA had made several trips to Albania but last year “we realised that we had wasted enough time and money”.
“It was really difficult to collaborate with local authorities,” he added.
Garcia said that UEFA were able to act after suspecting that two Champions League and two Europa League matches involving the club had also been manipulated.
Garcia said that the CAS ruling to accept unusual betting patterns as evidence would make it easier to ban future offenders, describing it as match-fixing’s equivalent of the “biological passport” used to combat doping in sport.
However, he said that CAS would not accept betting patterns alone and would need additional evidence such as video footage of the matches in question.