Ministry official told police: ‘Get Bogdanovic to the football ground’

Former Malta international Daniel Bogdanovic was arrested for threatening his wife and carrying a licensed gun outside his Ghajnsielem residence late last Saturday evening • On Sunday, police released him after a ministry official requested he be allowed to play the Xewkija Tigers match against Kercem at 3pm

Xewkija midfielder Daniel Bogdanovic
Xewkija midfielder Daniel Bogdanovic

How do you get your star football player released from arrest so that he can make the 3pm kick-off?

Easy: in Malta, political connections can win you a precious few hours, enough for your football team to win a crucial football match before your footballer has to face a criminal charge for domestic violence and carrying a firearm.

For in the case of former Malta international Daniel Bogdanovic, 36, the rules are different: arrested last week on Saturday evening following a domestic incident, released on Sunday to play against rivals Kercem, and then presented at the Gozo court under arrest on Monday.

UPDATED Internal inquiry ordered into Bogdanovic saga, government official suspends himself

The former Malta international football player was granted release from his arrest just hours after being hauled into custody by the Gozo police, to make a 3pm kick-off the next day for a Gozo first division match.

There was no official press statement issued by the police on Saturday, 29 October when Daniel Bogdanovic, the 36-year-old midfielder for Xewkija Tigers, was placed under arrest by the police over a domestic incident that included threats made against his wife, and for carrying a licensed weapon outside the premises it was registered to.

It was only on Monday at 1:30pm, that the police force issued a statement stating that the man – name not published – had been arraigned before Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri, and released from his arrest under certain conditions.

But in between his arrest on Saturday, and his court-ordered release from arrest on Monday, Daniel Bogdanovic was playing against Kercem at 3pm, in a match in which Xewkija Tigers emerged victorious.

Crucial to his release on Sunday, a police source told MaltaToday, was a call from a government ministry official, requesting Gozo police to allow Bogdanovic to play.

“It was a call that came straight from one of the ministerial secretariats, to a high police official in Gozo aware of Bogdanovic’s arrest. Xewkija needed him to play Kercem, and he was allowed to play before being presented under arrest, officially, in the Gozo courts,” MaltaToday’s source, who has insisted on anonymity, said.

Another source privy to the court proceedings said the unorthodox ‘release’ was no secret among footballing circles. “When knowing that Bogdanovic was being arraigned for an incident that happened Saturday evening, and having seen him smiling in the Xewkija line-up the day after, you instantly start questioning: how is it possible?”

According to the official police statement, on 29 October Bogdanovic was charged for having threatened “third parties” and struck fear in them with the use of violence, and for having in his possession a firearm outside the premises for which it was licensed.

Bogdanovic, arraigned before Magistrate Vella Cuschieri on 31 October, pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted release from his arrest under several conditions. The prosecution was led by Inspector Edel Mary Camilleri.

Crucially for Bogdanovic, Xewkija Tigers is perhaps one of the most politically connected football clubs on the island of Gozo. The present Gozo minister, Anton Refalo, had lent his support to the club as a bank guarantor for the acquisition of the Xewkija Tigers football club premises. MaltaToday is not suggesting Refalo is involved with the controversial release of Bogdanovic.

Additionally, Xewkija Tigers’ current coach, Jesmond Zammit, is the head of secretariat of the parliamentary secretary for EU funds, Ian Borg. MaltaToday is not suggesting that Zammit is involved with Bogdanovic’s release from arrest.

But this newspaper is reliably informed that it was a government official that requested Gozo police to allow Bogdanovic to play on Sunday.

“The police simply acquiesced,” the police source said. “There is no doubt that this was a dangerous incident that did not merit this kind of leniency, not when the victim of the domestic incident could have been placed in danger of retribution. And for what reason: to play a football match on Sunday, to Xewkija Tigers’ benefit? At the very least, this was totally unorthodox.”

Additional reporting by Saviour Balzan


  • Daniel Bogdanovic is a Maltese footballer of Serbian and Slovenian descent.
  • In 2006, he scored 31 goals for Marsaxlokk, winning him the Golden Boot and also the Maltese Player of the Year. That season, Marsaxlokk were crowned as league champions for the first time in their history.
  • At the end of the player’s one-year contract, Bogdanovic joined Italian side Cisco Roma, then in 2008 signed a two-year deal with Bulgarian club Lokomotiv Sofia.
  • In 2009 he signed for Barnsley, and in 2010 he signed a two–year deal with Sheffield United. Despite being a relatively high-profile signing he found it difficult to break into the first team.
  • On 31 August 2011 he signed a one-year deal with the option of a further year with Blackpool, for a fee of £250,000. In 2012 he joined Rochdale in a 28-day emergency loan deal, and then loaned out to Notts County until the end of the season.
  • He returned to Malta with Mosta for the 2012–13 season, played with Floriana for the 2013-14 season, and finally joined Xewkija Tigers.