note: Emilio García (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a doctor in law and head of disciplinary and
integrity at UEFA. Before joining UEFA, he was the Spanish Football
Federation’s legal director (2004–12) and an arbitrator at the CAS (2012–13).In
this blog, Emilio García provides a brief review of a recent case before the Court
of Arbitration for Sport (CAS): Klubi
Sportiv Skënderbeu v UEFA
(CAS 2016/A/4650), in
which he acted as main counsel for UEFA.
match-fixing – A quick overview
Match-fixing is now legally defined as “an intentional
arrangement, act or omission aimed at an improper alteration of the result or
the course of a sports competition in order to remove all or part of the
unpredictable nature of the aforementioned sports competition with a view to
obtaining an undue advantage for oneself or for others”.
It has been said that there has always been match-fixing in sport.
From the ancient Olympic Games to the most important global sports competitions
of today, manipulation of results has always been an all-too-frequent occurrence.
We have seen a number of very prominent instances of
this kind of issue over the years. One of the most remarkable examples, which was
even the subject of a film,
was the match-fixing episode during the 1919 World Series, where several
players from the Chicago White Sox were found guilty of accepting bribes and
deliberately losing matches against the Cincinnati Reds.
The situation has changed considerably since then. In particular,
the globalisation of the sports betting industry has had a massive impact, with
recent studies estimating that between €200bn and €500bn is betted on sport
Match-fixing does not just affect football either;
it is also affecting other sports, most notably tennis.
In addition to these impressive figures, it is well recognised
that match-fixing has become a global issue because it allows organised criminal
gangs to expand their illegal and violent activities – which include murder,
extortion and assault – worldwide. It also results in the loss of billions of
dollars of tax revenue and public income every year. Indeed, match-fixing is
now one of the most profitable forms of money laundering.
In light of the growth of this phenomenon, both international
sports federations and public authorities are now engaged in a continuous
battle against this scourge. More and more sports federations are establishing specific
programmes in this area, which is having a major impact at national level.
And as regards public authorities, various resolutions have been adopted by the
European Union, several initiatives have been launched by INTERPOL and EUROPOL,
and, in particular, excellent work has been done by the Council of Europe,
which adopted the first ever international treaty aimed at combating the
manipulation of sports competitions. These are all good examples of cooperation
between public authorities and the world of sport, but we are still a long way
from winning this particular battle.
rules and integrity-related cases
UEFA’s first modern-day integrity case
In May 2006, a match-fixing scandal – christened the ‘Calciopoli’
– was unearthed in Italian football. Investigations led by the Italian police revealed
that a network of club managers, officials responsible for referees and other
individuals had sought to influence the outcome of various matches in the Serie
A. Several clubs were punished by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). One of those clubs was AC Milan, which was given
a 30-point penalty. However, despite the deduction of those points, AC Milan still
managed to qualify for the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League.
Thus, the admissions process for the 2006/07 UEFA
Champions League presented UEFA with a real legal conundrum: could UEFA allow a
club that had been punished for its involvement in the Calciopoli to take part in
a European competition? On 2 August 2006, the UEFA Emergency Panel decided to
allow AC Milan to participate in UEFA’s flagship competition on the basis of
the following considerations:
“The UEFA Emergency
Panel, being competent to decide on the matter, came to the conclusion that it
had no choice but to admit AC Milan for the UEFA club competitions 2006-07 for
formal reasons because of an insufficient legal basis in the regulations which
would allow not admitting AC Milan under specific circumstances.”
This situation was highly frustrating for UEFA, which
felt that it was unable to prevent AC Milan from participating in its
competition, despite the club’s involvement in match-fixing. It should also be
noted that AC Milan went on to win that competition, beating English side
Liverpool FC in the final on 23 May 2007.
of the legal framework
UEFA’s response to the AC Milan case was a swift one. At the very next UEFA Congress,
which took place in Dusseldorf on 25 and 26 January 2007, representatives of the
various member associations approved a new paragraph 3 for Article 50 of the
That amendment, which remains in force today,
established a two-stage process aimed at guaranteeing the integrity of UEFA’s
competitions. The first stage involves an administrative measure, whereby the
offending club is excluded from European competitions for one season. The
second stage involves disciplinary measures, which may be imposed subsequent to
the administrative measure and do not have a maximum duration.
Article 50(3) of the UEFA Statutes reads as follows:
“The admission to a
UEFA competition of a Member Association or club directly or indirectly involved
in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at
national or international level can be refused with immediate effect, without
prejudice to any possible disciplinary measures.”
That provision has also been incorporated in the
regulations governing the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League,
which currently feature the following wording:
“If, on the basis of
all the factual circumstances and information available to UEFA, UEFA concludes
to its comfortable satisfaction that a club has been directly and/or indirectly
involved, since the entry into force of Article 50(3) of the UEFA Statutes,
i.e. 27 April 2007, in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the
outcome of a match at national or international level, UEFA will declare such
club ineligible to participate in the competition. Such ineligibility is
effective only for one football season. When taking its decision, UEFA can rely
on, but is not bound by, a decision of a national or international sporting body,
arbitral tribunal or state court.”
UEFA has been very active in applying this two-stage
process to its European club competitions – particularly as regards the first
stage. Since the introduction of this peculiar but successful process, more
than ten clubs from all over Europe have been declared ineligible to
participate in UEFA competitions. In some cases, those one-season bans have
been accompanied by disciplinary measures.
Inevitably, many of those cases have resulted in proceedings
before the CAS in Lausanne.
The CAS case law derived from those key cases can be summarised as follows:
- It is firmly in the
interest of UEFA, as the organiser of sports competitions, for the integrity of
its competitions to be ensured and perceived to be so by the public. It is undeniably
in UEFA’s interest to show the public that it takes all necessary steps to
safeguard the integrity of its competitions.
- UEFA does not need
to wait for a final decision at domestic level, particularly when it comes to criminal
proceedings, since neither UEFA nor the CAS can be forced to defer their
decisions when an effective fight to ensure the integrity of sport depends on
prompt action. UEFA and the CAS are not subject to the same rules as the
ordinary courts in terms of procedure, proof (types of evidence and standard of
proof) and substance.
- The essential aim
of the administrative measure is not to punish the club, but to protect the
values and objectives of UEFA’s competition, its reputation and its integrity.
It seeks not only to prevent a club which has violated such values from taking
part in UEFA’s competition (i.e. to protect the integrity of that competition),
but also to dispel any doubts in the public domain regarding the integrity,
values and fairness of its competition (i.e. to protect the reputation of that
- The administrative measure is not of a disciplinary
nature. Consequently, the fundamental legal principles that could potentially
be applicable to disciplinary matters are not relevant.
- The question of whether the club has any degree of
culpability as regards the prohibited activities is entirely irrelevant. The
principle of nulla poena sine culpa
does not apply to administrative measures adopted by sports associations.
- The range of conduct resulting in the application of
an administrative measure is broader and more generic than that resulting in a
disciplinary measure, which is, in principle, more restrictive and specific.
- The administrative measure is only applicable to a club,
whereas disciplinary measures can be imposed on all persons bound by UEFA’s
rules and regulations (i.e. member associations and their officials, clubs and
their officials, match officials, players, etc.).
ruling on KS Skënderbeu: Is betting analysis sufficient to declare a club in
breach of UEFA’s integrity rules?
betting fraud detection system
UEFA’s betting fraud detection system (BFDS) was
established in 2009 in response to the growing threat of match manipulation in
both UEFA and domestic competitions.
The BFDS highlights irregular betting patterns, both before
and during matches, in the core betting markets, monitoring all major European
and Asian bookmakers. The core betting markets are: the Asian handicap market; the
totals market (number of goals in a match); and the 1X2 market (home win, draw
or away win). The BFDS covers all UEFA competition matches (approximately 2,000
per season) and all matches in member associations’ top two divisions and cup
competitions (approximately 30,000 matches per season).
The BFDS uses sophisticated algorithms and
mathematical models to compare calculated odds with actual bookmakers’ odds, in
order to determine whether the odds at a specific point in time or over a
specific period are irregular.
If a match displays irregular betting patterns, the matter
is escalated and a report is generated. These reports include detailed information
on the betting operators being monitored, together with match-specific data –
e.g. regarding the current form of the teams involved, on-field action, players,
match officials and motivational factors (such as the potential for promotion, relegation
or qualification for a UEFA competition). Reports contain textual analysis and expert
assessments, as well as graphical representations of movements in the relevant betting
UEFA’s primary BFDS partner and information provider
is Swiss-based company Sportradar. Founded in 2001,
this company employs a team of highly trained sports betting analysts dealing
exclusively with European football.
of the case
On the basis of analysis of BFDS reports, it was
concluded that Albanian football club KS Skënderbeu had been involved in a very
large number of matches with inexplicable betting patterns. These included
matches in Albania’s domestic league, the Albanian Cup and UEFA competitions, as
well as several friendlies against foreign clubs. On the basis of UEFA’s
experience in the areas of betting and match-fixing, it was concluded that the
activities relating to Skënderbeu were of a highly organised nature.
While the vast majority of clubs will never feature in
BFDS reports, it should be noted that Skënderbeu has appeared in more than 50. If
we look at all the clubs that have been the subject of BFDS reports since 2010,
Skënderbeu has been flagged up far more times than any other club in Europe.
before UEFA’s disciplinary bodies
Against this background, charges were brought against Skënderbeu
before UEFA’s disciplinary bodies with a view to imposing an administrative
measure preventing the club from taking part in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions
A hearing took place before the UEFA Appeals Body, which acted as the first and
final instance in this case.
The Appeals Body upheld the charges against the club – i.e. it deemed that
Skënderbeu had indeed been involved in domestic and international activities
aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of matches. Consequently, the
club was declared ineligible to participate in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions
Skënderbeu then lodged an appeal against this decision
before the CAS.
The dispute between UEFA and Skënderbeu before the CAS
essentially revolved around the interpretation of the BFDS reports and the legal
value that should be attributed to them. UEFA, for its part, relied on those
betting reports in concluding that the Albanian club had been involved in
activities aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of matches at domestic
and international level. Skënderbeu, on the other hand, maintained that the
BFDS reports (i) were not sufficient to prove match-fixing, (ii) were not capable
of attributing specific responsibility as regards involvement in match-fixing,
and (iii) were simply objective alarm mechanisms, which needed to be supported
by other external evidence pointing in the same direction.
The CAS limited itself to an analysis of four Skënderbeu
matches in UEFA competitions (namely, the club’s matches against Crusaders FC
on 21 July 2015, against GNK Dinamo Zagreb on 25 August 2015, against Sporting
Clube de Portugal on 22 October 2015 and against FC Lokomotiv Moskva on 10
December 2015) and refrained from analysing domestic matches and other pieces
of evidence submitted by UEFA. It did so in order to avoid prejudicing any
disciplinary measures that UEFA might potentially impose on the club.
The starting point for the legal analysis conducted by
the CAS Panel tallied with UEFA’s approach to this case and the question of
whether BFDS reports could be used as the sole piece of evidence when
prosecuting cases of match-fixing. The CAS agreed with UEFA that there were potential
analogies between athletes’ biological passports and BFDS reports: “The Panel notes
the similarities between the procedures followed in respect of the BFDS and the
athlete blood passport (the ‘ABP’) in doping matters. Both rely initially on
analytical data which is subsequently interpreted by experts/analysts before
conclusions are drawn as to whether a violation is presumed to be committed or
Using this analogy, the Panel explained how analytical
information was processed within the BFDS, highlighting the fact that the BFDS
– like the ABP – indicates the likelihood of a violation having occurred,
rather than providing absolute proof one way or the other: “The BFDS analyses
whether the analytical information regarding betting on football matches can be
explained by ‘normal’ circumstances. The conclusion that the statistical
information cannot be explained by ‘normal’ circumstances does not necessarily
entail that it must hence be concluded that the results are to be explained by
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”.
Over the last few years, I have heard many betting
experts state that monitoring is not the answer to match-fixing in sport. I
fully agree with all of them, particularly since they know far more about the
betting market than I do. Perhaps as a consequence of my limited legal skills (since
even bad lawyers are always trying to find solutions to a complex reality), I
would prefer to say that monitoring is not the only answer to match-fixing.
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
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”.
In this context, a monitoring system can play a key legal role in safeguarding
the integrity of a competition.
copy of the CAS award is available at: http://www.uefa.org/disciplinary/casdecisions/index.html.
Article 3(4) of the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports
See Hill, D. (2016). Why sport is losing the war to match-fixers. Global Corruption Report: Sport,
Transparency International, p. 231.
Eight Men Out, directed by John Sayles, which was released in 1988.
See Carpenter, K. (2013). Global Match-Fixing and the United States’ Role in Upholding Sporting
Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law, Vol. 2, Issue 1.
See Sorbonne-ICSS (2014). Protecting the Integrity of Sport Competition: The Last Bet for Modern
See FIFPro (2016). 2016 FIFPro Global Employment Report.
See ESSA (2016). ESSA Q3 2016 Integrity Report.
See Anderson, J. (2014). Match Fixing and Money Laundering. The International Sports Law Journal.
Among others, the Tennis Integrity Unit (see http://www.tennisintegrityunit.com/)
or the Cricket Anti-Corruption Unit (see http://www.icc-cricket.com/about/46/anti-corruption/overview).
The full official UEFA statement is accessible at the following link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2342180/Milan-restored-to-Champions-League.html.
 See http://www.uefa.org/documentlibrary/aboutuefa.
 CAS 2013/A/3256, Fenerbahçe SK v UEFA,
para. 160 et seqq.
Article 4.02 of both the Regulations of the UEFA Champions League 2016/17 and
the Regulations of the UEFA Europa League 2016/17 (http://www.uefa.org/documentlibrary/regulations/index.html).
The CAS has reviewed a total of six cases relating to the refusal of admission
on grounds of integrity. See generally Deakes, N. (2014). Match-Fixing in
football: The epistemology of the Court of Arbitration for Sport Jurisprudence.
Australian and New Zealand Sports Law
TAS 2011/A/2528, Olympiacos Volou FC
v UEFA, para. 141.
 Ibid., para. 136.
2014/A/3625, Sivasspor Kulübü v UEFA,
 Ibid., para. 128.
 CAS 2014/A/3628, Eskişehirspor
Kulübü v UEFA, para. 136.
 Ibid., para. 105.
Calculated odds are a mathematical representation of the true probability of an
occurrence, without the external effects of money and subjective opinions. In
effect, they show what should be happening to the odds, instead of what is
 See Forrest, D., & McHale, I. (2015). An evaluation of Sportradar’s fraud detection system.
See García, E. (2015). UEFA’s Judicial Bodies. Football Legal, Issue 4.
See Article 24(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.
See Article 4.03 of the Regulations of the UEFA Champions League 2016/17.
 CAS 2016/A/4650 Klubi Sportiv
Skënderbeu v UEFA, para. 82.
 Ibid., para. 85.
 Ibid., para. 86.
 Ibid., para. 87.
 Ibid., para. 97.
 Ibid., para. 79.
2010/A/2172, Mr Oleg Oriekhov v UEFA,
 TAS 2011/A/2528, Olympiacos Volou FC
v UEFA, para. 136.