Former Attard FC committee member jailed six months for match-fixing

24-year-old Rudgear Scerri jailed six months on appeal, after first court gave him suspended sentence

A former Attard FC committee member has been jailed for six months and interdicted for life for match-fixing, after his punishment was increased on appeal.

During his arraignment in January 2021, 24-year-old Rudgear Scerri admitted his involvement in the manipulation of an amateur league match between Attard FC and Kalkara FC in December 2020.

He had also pleaded guilty to having failed to alert the Commissioner of Police about that manipulation, and to having taken bets without the requisite licence. Scerri was arrested by police acting on a tip-off, who raided the residence he had been sharing with his girlfriend.  Police found a stash of between €20,000 and €30,000 in cash at his home.

In view of his guilty plea, the Court of Magistrates had sentenced him to two years in prison, suspended for four, together with a €50,000 fine.

Attard FC had distanced itself from Scerri in the wake of the 2021 conviction, removing him from the committee by a unanimous vote. As a result of the match-fixing scandal, the club was stripped of nine points, fined €1,000 and prohibited from participating in international tournaments for five years.

The Attorney General subsequently filed an appeal to Scerri’s sentence, arguing that under the Prevention of Corruption in Sport Act, the crime of manipulating a sporting event was punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years. Individuals convicted of offences under that law also had to be prohibited from participation in any sport in Malta for a long time.

Mr Justice Neville Camilleri, presiding the Court of Criminal Appeal, noted that in terms of that law a prison sentence was mandatory, in the light of which, the court’s hands were tied.

While noting Scerri’s clean criminal record and early guilty plea on the one hand, the Court of Appeal said that the Attorney General was also correct in arguing that the punishment of perpetual general interdiction was also obligatory in terms of law.

Upholding the appeal, the court sentenced Scerri to imprisonment for six months and prohibited him from attending any sporting event or even being present in the same building as one, for ten years, also ordering his perpetual general interdiction.