UEFA decision on U-21 players in Montenegro match-fixing case imminent

UEFA is asking for a supsension, which will range from six months to a lifetime ban for seven Malta players

UEFA, European football’s governing body, is asking for a suspension that will range from six months to a lifetime ban for seven Malta players alleged to have been bribed in several U-21 matches.

The sentencing of the disciplinary hearings is expected next week. The decision will be subject to an appeal if the defendants so choose.

The seven players are Kyle Cesare, Emanuel Briffa, Ryan Camenzuli, Luke Montebello, Llewellyn Cremona, Matthew Calleja Cremona and Samir Arab.

The disciplinary proceedings were launched in connection with a UEFA investigation into allegations of match-fixing attempts concerning two games played by the Malta Under-21 team last year.

The matches are the 2015-17 UEFA Championship Group 1 qualifiers, Malta vs Montenegro (0-1), played at the Hibernians Stadium on March 23, and Malta vs Czech Republic (0-7), played at the National Stadium on March 29.

The witnesses were heard over the past week in the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

The hearing took place before the board of control, ethics and discipline. Several of the footballers were present in Nyon with their lawyers, while others testified through the use of video-conferencing.

Cesare and Briffa were cleared of criminal charges against them in August 2016, with magistrate Joe Mifsud finding that plans to fix the match had been abandoned before the two players had ever discussed monetary compensation.

According to the law, players approached with match-fixing offers have three months to inform authorities. In this case, police had pressed charges before the three-month period had expired, the court found.

Police had filed charges against Cesare and Briffa after fellow U-21 player Seyble Zammit had admitted to similar charges. Zammit was spared punishment in exchange for helping police with their investigations.

Charges were also filed against St Julian’s resident Ronnie Mackay, 34, with prosecutors alleging he served as the middle-man in the match-fixing attempts.

The court found that Cesare and Briffa had been subjected to intense “peer pressure” from Zammit, an unnamed “Asian” person and others who would have been tough for them to resist.