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Thread: FAI charge members of Athlone Town over match fixing

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeverFeltBetter View Post
    If the investigation and verdict was as badly handled as the various commentators have claimed, surely CAS and whoever else will order it overturned?
    The problem here is that the betting market showed clearly that the game was fixed. Odds were ridiculous.

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    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    The game may have been rigged, but it doesn't follow that the two guys banned are the ones who rigged it

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    Capped Player DannyInvincible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Briuk View Post
    The problem here is that the betting market showed clearly that the game was fixed. Odds were ridiculous.
    That is a problem alright, but to deprive two workers of their livelihoods for a year, effectively on the basis of mere suspicion rather than any solid evidence of personal wrongdoing, is very serious. If CAS were to uphold the FAI's stance (and it's hard to see how they would), I could see the players going beyond that stage of appeal and taking their cases to an actual court of law.

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    It's absolute nonsense to say that this serves as a deterrent. There's no proof they did anything and even if they did, the people that profited from it most were out the gap at the final whistle.

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    International Prospect osarusan's Avatar
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    Does anybody know if there is some common, UEFA-approved burden of proof in cases such as these? Or even a common approach to dealing with these cases? It is hard to imagine that the FAI process is something that UEFA would be happy with, but maybe I am wrong.

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    Capped Player DannyInvincible's Avatar
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    Are Athlone going to be deducted points as a punishment or will only the two players be punished? Is there a procedure for punishing the club as well? Is it even appropriate that an entire club be punished when one or two of its players may have conspired with an external party or parties to manipulate the club's results?

    What would have happened, for example, if the match against Longford had been fixed as a draw or even won by a specific number of goals due to the concession of a certain number of goals having been manipulated? Would Athlone be permitted to hold on to any point(s) gained despite two of their players having been found guilty of fixing the match concerned? Surely not.

    Obviously, Athlone lost the game against Longford in question 3-1, but, as it stands, the goal that Athlone scored in that game still counts towards their goal difference in the league table, so they did take something from the game that could potentially impact where they (and, by extension, other clubs) finish in the table. And if Longford's three points from that game have been won as a result of the match being fixed, surely that brings the integrity of the entire result into question. Ideally, wouldn't it be expunged from the record and replayed? However, it could then of course be argued that you're punishing Longford too despite them having done nothing wrong. It's a really messy situation.

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    Capped Player DannyInvincible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by osarusan View Post
    Does anybody know if there is some common, UEFA-approved burden of proof in cases such as these? Or even a common approach to dealing with these cases? It is hard to imagine that the FAI process is something that UEFA would be happy with, but maybe I am wrong.
    Just looking into this now.

    Article 12 of the 2017 UEFA Disciplinary Regulations covers potential match-fixing:

    Quote Originally Posted by UEFA
    Article 12: Integrity of matches and competitions and match-fixing

    1. All persons bound by UEFA’s rules and regulations must refrain from any behaviour that damages or could damage the integrity of matches and competitions and must cooperate fully with UEFA at all times in its efforts to combat such behaviour.

    2. The integrity of matches and competitions is violated, for example, by anyone:

    a. who acts in a manner that is likely to exert an unlawful or undue influence on the course and/or result of a match or competition with a view to gaining an advantage for himself or a third party

    b. who participates directly or indirectly in betting or similar activities relating to competition matches or who has a direct or indirect financial interest in such activities;

    c. who uses or provides others with information which is not publicly available, which is obtained through his position in football, and damages or could damage the integrity of a match or competition;

    d. who does not immediately and voluntarily inform UEFA if approached in connection with activities aimed at influencing in an unlawful or undue manner the course and/or result of a match or competition;

    e. who does not immediately and voluntarily report to UEFA any behaviour he is aware of that may fall within the scope of this article.

    3 If filed after the relevant competition stage has finished, complaints regarding match-fixing can have no impact on the sporting result of the competition or match in question and, therefore, the match cannot be replayed, unless the competent disciplinary body decides otherwise.
    The standard of proof required to prove an allegation of match-fixing appears to be outlined in article 24:

    Quote Originally Posted by UEFA
    Article 24: Evaluation of evidence and standard of proof

    1. The competent disciplinary body has absolute discretion regarding the evaluation of evidence.

    2. The standard of proof to be applied in UEFA disciplinary proceedings is the comfortable satisfaction of the competent disciplinary body.
    It seems then that the FAI are fully entitled to use whatever means they wish to judge the evidence and that the standard of "comfortable satisfaction" is actually a UEFA-approved test or threshold. I know Richie Sadlier and others have been critical of such a seemingly soft standard (indeed, I would be myself), but, in light of what is outlined in the regulations above, the FAI appear to have pursued this case by the book and I'd probably amend the thoughts I expressed above in relation to how CAS might deal with any appeal pursued by the players concerned as a result. If the FAI are found by CAS to have adhered to the regulations of the governing confederation in their investigation and punishment of the players found guilty, I suspect CAS would uphold the association's verdict.

    The players may still wish to take the case to a court of law if they have no luck with CAS, however; I could be wrong, but I don't see any reason why they wouldn't be entitled to bring a civil case for deprivation of livelihood (or something along those lines) if they really thought it was worth their while. The FAI and UEFA are still subject to the law of the land, after all.

    The famous Bosman ruling, for example, which arose after Jean-Marc Bosman sued RFC Liège, the Belgian football association and UEFA for restraint of trade, came as a result of the European Court of Justice ruling in the player's favour in 1995. CAS was established in 1984, yet it wasn't they who dealt with the Bosman case.

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    Capped Player DannyInvincible's Avatar
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    A 2009 CAS case - FK Pobeda, Aleksandar Zabrcanec, Nikolce Zdraveski v. UEFA (CAS 2009/A/1920) - involving a Macedonian club, Pobeda, who participated in Champions League qualifying against Armenian club FC Pyunik in 2004 discussed here is also relevant as it appears to confirm that direct evidence, such as bank transaction records, would not be required to establish that match-fixing had occurred: https://books.google.ie/books?id=vBO...page&q&f=false



    UEFA originally sanctioned the club, it's president and the club's captain for match-fixing after investigating the fixture in question. All three sanctioned parties then appealed against UEFA to CAS. Witness statements had been provided as evidence in that case, however, which isn't the case in the Athlone case, to the best of my knowledge. A life-ban from footballing activities was deemed by CAS to amount to an appropriate punishment for Pobeda's president, Aleksandar Zabrcanec, along with an eight-year ban from European competition for the club. However, witness statements were not deemed to amount to sufficient or "comfortably satisfying" evidence in order to establish the guilt of Nikolce Zdraveski, the club's captain.

    Seeing as there weren't even any witness statements submitted as evidence against Athlone's Igors Labuts and Dragoș Sfrijan, perhaps an appeal by them would have a chance of success, after all, at least on the basis of this precedent.

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    I've also come across some other articles relating to how CAS has dealt with appeals relating to match-fixing in the past. This is one from Asser International discusses a number of cases in terms of the standard of proof and the admissibility/evaluation of evidence: http://www.asser.nl/SportsLaw/Blog/p...diathesopoulou

    Quote Originally Posted by Oskar van Maren
    ...

    The CAS Code does not define the applicable standard of proof in CAS proceedings. As a result, sports-governing bodies may explicitly specify a pre-determined standard of proof in their regulations. Indeed, in the Bin Hammam, Köllerer and Adamu cases, the CAS recognized the autonomy of a sports federation in determining the applicable standard of proof by acknowledging that ‘in the absence of any overarching regulation, each association can decide for itself which standard of proof to apply’. Specifically, in the context of UEFA match-fixing proceedings, UEFA has embedded the standard of ‘comfortable satisfaction’ as the applicable standard of proof in Articles 2.05 of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) Regulations and 2.08 of the UEFA Europa League (UEL) Regulations. However, even in cases where the standard of proof is enshrined in the applicable regulations, the CAS is not impeded to deviate from this standard. In any case, it is interesting to analyse the reasoning of the panels in coming to the conclusion that the comfortable satisfaction standard or another standard of proof is applicable.

    The first time the CAS was called to adjudicate on the standard of proof to be used in match-fixing disputes was in the Pobeda case. Since then, in a number of awards, including the most recent example of the Turkish cases, the CAS has attempted to establish certain general principles on the standard of proof to be applied in match-fixing cases. However, this has not been done in an entirely consistent way.

    ...

    With regard to the evidentiary measures in match-fixing proceedings, it is well-established jurisprudence that sports federations and arbitral tribunals enjoy considerable discretion and are not necessarily barred from taking into account evidence, which may not be admissible in civil or criminal state courts.

    ...
    Here is a piece by Emilio García (a doctor in law and head of disciplinary and integrity at UEFA), which discusses match-fixing generally before going into greater detail on the case of Klubi Sportiv Skënderbeu v. UEFA (CAS 2016/A/4650) and the standard of proof required: http://www.asser.nl/SportsLaw/Blog/p...-emilio-garcia

    Quote Originally Posted by Emilio García
    The Panel went on to say that ‘[i]n order to come to the conclusion that a match is fixed […] the analytical information needs to be supported by other, different and external elements pointing in the same direction’. With this in mind, the Panel noted that ‘the final conclusions drawn are not only based on analytical data and the absence of any “normal” explanation, but indeed take into account several external factors corroborating the theory that the abnormal betting behaviour was likely to be explained by match-fixing: suspicious actions of players that took place on the field of play, suspicions raised by an opponent after the match, the emergence of a betting pattern in respect of the Club whereby it would concede late goals when the tie was no longer competitive and the fact that the Hong Kong Jockey Club, a prominent Asian bookmaker, removed the Club from live markets before the end of a game’.

    The Panel also attributed considerable weight to the betting patterns surrounding the four European matches under examination: ‘The Panel particularly considers the emergence of a betting pattern […] to be convincing evidence that the Club is at least indirectly involved in match-fixing activities. This betting pattern consists of the fact that it was observed in four different matches of the Club in either the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Europa League in the first half of the 2015/2016 sporting season, that the actual bookmakers’ odds started to divert considerably from the calculated odds at the end of the match when the tie was no longer competitive (i.e. when it was clear that the Club would lose the tie on the basis of the aggregate score or that it would win the tie).

    All in all, the Panel concluded that the ‘analytical information derived from the BFDS is valuable evidence that, particularly if corroborated by further evidence, can be used in order to conclude that a club was directly or indirectly involved in match-fixing‘.
    Another piece (free registration is needed to view) that "builds on Mr Garcia’s piece [above] by exploring the impact of the [CAS] Decision [in respect of Skënderbeu]" and asks "specifically whether or not betting alerts alone can meet the standard of proof required to persuade a disciplinary panel that a party has breached integrity rules (in this case UEFA's rules prohibiting match-fixing)": https://www.lawinsport.com/articles/...nderbeu-v-uefa

    The impression I get from reading all of the above is that direct or documentary evidence of match-fixing isn't required by CAS in order to satisfy the burden of proof threshold, whilst the CAS panel's interpretation of the notion of "comfortable satisfaction" could potentially differ from that of the respondent or disciplinary body in question. From my reading of it, this may well leave some room for a successful appeal to CAS by the two Athlone players.

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  14. #70
    International Prospect Martinho II's Avatar
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    the thing I dont get is that athlone players gave their mobile phones records and bank a/c details to the investigation and it was found clean but how come these two players were charged? <MOD SNIP- please thing before posting allegations you cannot prove>
    Last edited by Mr A; 11/09/2017 at 10:29 AM.
    Daire Doyles red and black army

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    If you're fixing a LOI match you certainly wouldn't be arranging it over texts or whatsapp and would want to accept proceeds in either cash or a foreign bank account well away from the jurisdiction
    The Leinster Senior League needs a strong Bohemians

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    Quote Originally Posted by total hoofball View Post
    If you're fixing a LOI match you certainly wouldn't be arranging it over texts or whatsapp and would want to accept proceeds in either cash or a foreign bank account well away from the jurisdiction
    Exactly. It doesn't say a lot that the phone records and bank accounts are clean. Can the FAI be sure they don't have other accounts in their home countries, and second phones with foreign SIMs? Probably not. And even if they don't have further bank accounts abroad, proceeds could be paid to an uncle/brother/cousin/friend/whoever.

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    Proceeds can be forwarded onto recipient months/years following the fix to avoid detection, sure you may not get your proceeds at all if you're caught out like Labuts and Sfrijan. No sign of funds in their bank accounts or family/OH/friends etc. is what you would expect in this instance. Only the Gardai can try to practically investigate if any money trail yet exists.
    The Leinster Senior League needs a strong Bohemians

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    Seasoned Pro NeverFeltBetter's Avatar
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    Regardless of how it can happen, it has to be proven as far as I'm concerned.

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    Capped Player DannyInvincible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by total hoofball View Post
    If you're fixing a LOI match you certainly wouldn't be arranging it over texts or whatsapp and would want to accept proceeds in either cash or a foreign bank account well away from the jurisdiction
    Very true. García makes the following point on the nature of match-fixing, which is of course a form of corruption, meaning those engaging in it will naturally attempt to conceal and avoid potential detection of their activity as best they can on account of the very essence of what it is they're involved in:

    Quote Originally Posted by Emilio García
    What the CAS ruling on Skënderbeu shows is that action can be taken if you have a proper monitoring system. Again, monitoring is not the sole solution to this problem, but it represents an additional evidentiary tool and can play an important role in legal proceedings. We should remember that match-fixing is linked to corruption and that the parties involved will inevitably “seek to use evasive means to ensure that they will leave no trail of their wrongdoing” (CAS 2010/A/2172, Mr. Oleg Oriekhov v. UEFA, para. 54). Importantly, the legal framework governing match-fixing is clearly different for ordinary courts, where “the applicable rules in terms of procedure, proof (types of evidence and standard of proof) and substance are not the same as those that apply before UEFA and the CAS” (CAS 2011/A/2528, Olympiacos Volou FC v. UEFA, para. 136). In this context, a monitoring system can play a key legal role in safeguarding the integrity of a competition.
    The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, of course. The absence of material or documentary evidence of wrongdoing doesn't necessarily prove that the two Athlone players are innocent, but (purely personally-speaking here) I still think that if you're going to indict individual players, the process should be more rigorous than the flimsy, low-proof-threshold and fundamentally speculative process undertaken by the FAI.

    CAS justify the "comfortable satisfaction" test, however, seemingly on the basis that having an effective means of tackling match-fixing in order to stamp it out in the interests of football's integrity and the public's confidence in the game is deemed to constitute a greater good and that the forgoing of a requirement for a higher standard of proof is the necessary sacrifice to be made in the pursuit of achieving that greater good. CAS also cite the investigative limitations of sports governing bodies compared to national or state authorities as justification for the lower threshold. In the case of Mr. Oleg Oriekhov v. UEFA (CAS 2010/A/2172), the CAS panel outlined the following (at paragraphs 53 and 54) in respect of the assessment of the evidence available:

    Quote Originally Posted by CAS
    53. As far as the assessment of the available evidence is concerned, the Panel endorses the position articulated in CAS 2009/A/1920 FK Pobeda, Aleksandar Zabrcanec, Nikolce Zdraveski v/ UEFA:

    "Taking into account the nature of the conduct in question and the paramount importance of fighting corruption of any kind in sport and also considering the nature and restricted powers of the investigation authorities of the governing bodies of sport as compared to national formal interrogation authorities, the Panel is of the opinion that cases of match fixing should be dealt in line with the CAS constant jurisprudence on disciplinary doping cases. Therefore, the UEFA must establish the relevant facts “to the comfortable satisfaction of the Court having in mind the seriousness of allegation which is made” (CAS 2005/A/908 nr 6.2)."

    54. In the particular case, when assessing the evidence, the Panel has well in mind that corruption is, by nature, concealed as the parties involved will seek to use evasive means to ensure that they leave no trail of their wrongdoing.

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    Like the Fonz. Only a dog. Mr A's Avatar
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    Everything about this is depressing. Clearly some very dodgy stuff happened in Athlone. Too many people called it out after watching them play and the betting patterns point to this being the case. But the prosecution does sound flimsy. The defence doesn't sound great either- getting 3 'TV pundits' in but only one 'top coach'? WTF?!? But some of the stuff being said about any player who makes a mistake being under suspicion is just outright disingenuous. There was a huge amount of context here, these guys have been involved in a lot of dodgy matches, and in Labuts case at least under severe suspicions before. It's a hard thing to prove but there were any number of red flags here. But it suits some to ignore a lot of that to have another cut at the FAI. Every element of this is horrible for the club and the league. And it'll drag on for some time yet.
    #NeverStopNotGivingUp

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    International Prospect outspoken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr A View Post
    Everything about this is depressing. Clearly some very dodgy stuff happened in Athlone. Too many people called it out after watching them play and the betting patterns point to this being the case. But the prosecution does sound flimsy. The defence doesn't sound great either- getting 3 'TV pundits' in but only one 'top coach'? WTF?!? But some of the stuff being said about any player who makes a mistake being under suspicion is just outright disingenuous. There was a huge amount of context here, these guys have been involved in a lot of dodgy matches, and in Labuts case at least under severe suspicions before. It's a hard thing to prove but there were any number of red flags here. But it suits some to ignore a lot of that to have another cut at the FAI. Every element of this is horrible for the club and the league. And it'll drag on for some time yet.
    Best post I've seen anywhere on this situation yet.

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    Seasoned Pro NeverFeltBetter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr A View Post
    Everything about this is depressing. Clearly some very dodgy stuff happened in Athlone. Too many people called it out after watching them play and the betting patterns point to this being the case. But the prosecution does sound flimsy. The defence doesn't sound great either- getting 3 'TV pundits' in but only one 'top coach'? WTF?!? But some of the stuff being said about any player who makes a mistake being under suspicion is just outright disingenuous. There was a huge amount of context here, these guys have been involved in a lot of dodgy matches, and in Labuts case at least under severe suspicions before. It's a hard thing to prove but there were any number of red flags here. But it suits some to ignore a lot of that to have another cut at the FAI. Every element of this is horrible for the club and the league. And it'll drag on for some time yet.
    So it is, but so be it. Call it hearsay, circumstantial or whatever else, but relying on just that is what will keep this from dragging on and on. It simply isn't good enough to look at a few miskicks,declare the two bent, and hope that the "red flags" as you say will satisfy everyone. If the Garda or Interpol or whoever need to be gotten involved, then all parties should do that.
    Author of Never Felt Better (History, Film Reviews).

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    Like the Fonz. Only a dog. Mr A's Avatar
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    The descriptions of the prosecution (and these have all come from the defence so are not unbiased) indicate that the red flags were not brought into it much but that it focussed on just the lead up to specific goals. That might be unfair though, and I doubt the FAI can come out and correct the record even if it's wrong. The whole thing is an unholy mess. Would fully support a Garda investigation being launched. Not sure what the laws are around match fixing though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr A View Post
    The descriptions of the prosecution (and these have all come from the defence so are not unbiased) indicate that the red flags were not brought into it much but that it focussed on just the lead up to specific goals. That might be unfair though, and I doubt the FAI can come out and correct the record even if it's wrong. The whole thing is an unholy mess. Would fully support a Garda investigation being launched. Not sure what the laws are around match fixing though.
    If this goes to a court of law the judge would throw it out for lack of evidence before it even came to trial. The main man @ Atfc is a barrister and will know exactly how to handle this.
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