Sports integrity watchdogs Federbet are suing the Malta Football Association (MFA) for publicly questioning Federbet’s motivation for pointing out suspected instances of match-fixing.
Last Friday (4), Federbet gave a presentation to the European Parliament in Brussels in which it repeated allegations made this June that Maltese football is rife with corruption and match-fixing.
Following the presentation, MFA Integrity Officer Franz Trabone released a statement claiming that Federbet’s allegations were “not based on tangible information.”
Trabone went on to say that Federbet’s allegations were made “purely for commercial purposes,” because Federbet has so far “not succeeded in earning the recognition of football associations” such as UEFA and the MFA. The gist was that Federbet’s claims of uncovering corruption not found by other watchdogs were intended to attract attention to the services it markets to sporting bodies.
On Monday, a suitably irate Federbet announced it was taking Trabone and the MFA to court. Federbet claims Trabone presented members of the European Parliament with a dossier of press articles about Federbet, “some of which were withdrawn because they were not true.”
Federbet backed up its allegations of “the ineffectiveness of the MFA in solving the problem of match-fixing” by noting that it had “freely reported on several suspicious games” to both the MFA and Trabone, yet neither party “took concrete action and they never even responded to the Federbet reports.”
Federbet went on to say that its allegations of widespread corruption were supported by the fact “international bookmakers do not accept bets on most Maltese championship matches.” Federbet called this “strong evidence for the unreliability of football in Malta.”
MFA general secretary Bjorn Vassallo was unimpressed by Federbet’s threat of legal action, telling the Times of Malta that the MFA “will not refrain from confronting anyone who makes unfounded allegations about Maltese football.”
This isn’t the first time that Federbet has earned the ire of a European football body. Also singled out for scorn in Federbet’s June presentation to the European Parliament was Portugal’s Primeira League, which claimed Federbet only made its allegations as “a means of pressure” after the league rejected Federbet’s proposal to provide its services, for which the league said Federbet demanded “impossible amounts.”