Match-Fixing. FK Pobeda et Al. V. UEFA (CAS 2009/A/1920)

Article excerpt

I. Introduction

The arbitral award issued by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on 15 April 2010 in the case FK Pobeda - Prilep, Aleksandar Zabrcanec, Nikolce Zdraveski v/ UEFA (hereinafter "the award" or "the award against Pobeda") is a first in several respects, not only for UEFA but also for the CAS.

With regard to the substance first of all, it is one of the very first procedures that has led to sanctions being imposed against a club and individuals in relation to the fixing of football matches. The subject of match-fixing has attracted a great deal of media attention since the revelations made by the Bochum public prosecutor's office. However, the Pobeda case is totally unconnected to those revelations. It is the result of numerous investigative measures taken by the UEFA disciplinary bodies without the help, it should be stressed, of any state investigative or judicial authority.

This arbitral award is also a first from a procedural point of view, since the most important among numerous procedural questions that the arbitrators had to consider concerned whether or not they should accept UEFA's request that the identity of certain witnesses should be withheld and that they should therefore be examined by the CAS without their identity being made known to the appellants.

Finally, this award represents a first in terms of its outcome, since it is the first time a club and its president have been sanctioned for match-fixing in a European competition.

II. Summary of the Facts

Insofar as the present publication contains the full text of the arbitral award, there is no need to describe the facts of the case in detail, but readers are invited to examine the facts as they appear in the award.

Readers are therefore merely reminded that UEFA had opened a disciplinary investigation against FK Pobeda, a club from the Macedonian city of Prilep, on the basis of information suggesting that the home and away matches between FK Pobeda and FC Pyunik, an Armenian club, in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League had been fixed. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body (first instance body), on the basis of the findings of the investigation, sanctioned FK Pobeda, its president and the team captain at the time.

Following an appeal lodged by the three parties (club, president and captain, hereinafter "the appellants"), the UEFA Appeals Body (second instance body) confirmed the first instance decision. The three appellants lodged an appeal against this UEFA Appeals Body decision with the CAS.

III. In Substance

For various reasons, particularly certain procedural reasons which are discussed later, the Panel carried out a full review of the case. The CAS confirmed the decision of the UEFA Appeals Body in relation to the sanctions imposed against the club and its president, but set aside the sanction imposed against the captain.

In the examination on the merits, the arbitral award contains some extremely important recitals.

a. Fundamental principles for sport

Firstly, while noting that the regulations applicable in 2004 did not contain any specific provisions on the sanctioning of match-fixing activities, the award states that match-fixing "touches at the very essence of the principle of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship".

The CAS therefore considered that match-fixing and sports betting activities violated the general clause of Article 5 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, which states that "member associations, clubs, as well as their players, officials and members, shall conduct themselves according to the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship." Similarly, the CAS pointed out the high social significance of football in Europe. It is therefore fundamental that the public is sure that all players (in the broad sense) act with the sole objective of beating their opponent and that all decisions are based on that objective (award, p. …

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