Nadur Youngsters demoted to second division following bribery probe

Nadur Youngsters and former official sanctioned by Malta Football Association after being found guilty of bribing player from rival team

Anthony Portelli
Anthony Portelli

Gozitan football club Nadur Youngsters has been demoted to the second division after its former secretary Anthony Sam Portelli was found guilty of bribing a player from a rival team in February 2015.

The Malta Football Association sanctioned the 11-time Gozitan champions after Portelli was found guilty of offering “an amount of consideration” to Peter Buttigieg - who plays for the 2014-15 Gozo first division champions Xewkija Tigers FC – in order to influence or change the result of the game between the two sides on 22 March.

The match eventually ended in a 3-1 victory for Xewkija and had Portelli’s plan not been uncovered before the match was played it could have gifted the title to Nadur because Xewkija won the league by a single-point over their fierce rivals.

The MFA’s Regulations on Bribery and Betting regarding football matches stipulate that if an official is found guilty of corruption, the club the official represents must also be sanctioned.

Nadur Youngsters FC were charged to have acted in breach the MFA’s regulations and were demoted from Gozo’s top division and fined €4,000.

“The evidence presented and Anthony Sam Portelli’s admission before the board leaves no doubt that Portelli is guilty,” the association’s board of investigations into bribery in football said.

Portelli, who in 2014 was awarded the “Premju Gieh in-Nadur 2014″ by former mayor Charles Said, was also suspended for life and cannot have any role or function within the Gozo Football Association and the Malta Football Association.

On 8 February, the former Nadur Youngsters secretary who captained the side before retiring the previous season, was fined and handed a suspended jail term after admitting to attempting to bribe two football players.

Portelli was arraigned together with George Sultana from Gharb, Gozo and the two man were charged with attempting to bribe two Xewkija Tigers players before the top-of-the-table clash against Nadur Youngsters.

Reportedly, the two men agreed to meet the players in Gozo, only for the police to turn up instead. The accused were then arrested by police and immediately arraigned.

Magistrate Vella Cuschieri had handed the men a four month jail term suspended for two years and also fined them €1,165.
Following the court proceedings, Nadur Youngsters distanced itself from the accused, and announced that Portelli was sacked from his position as the club’s secretary.

On Facebook, long-serving Nadur Youngsters President Karistu Camilleri condemned the action and insisted that the club had nothing to do with the attempted bribe. Camilleri also said that his club would continue working to ensure that football remains a “clean” sport.