The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne yesterday, 18 January 2011, dismissed the appeal made to it by the Ukrainian referee Mr Oleh Orekhov. Thus the decision taken by UEFA's Appeals Body on 18 May 2010 is confirmed and the life ban from any football-related activity imposed on Oleh Orekhov is upheld.
Commenting on the decision UEFA general secretary, Gianni Infantino, said: "We are very pleased with this confirmation from CAS, as well as the overall legal position that has been set out through this specific case. The fight against corruption is a difficult one, but one that we are determined to win. If the sporting legal institutions are working in the same spirit of zero tolerance, together we are stronger and will be able to make real progress."
The decision of the UEFA Appeals Body followed that of the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body, made on 18 March 2010, and concerned the investigation into the match officiated on 5 November 2009 by referee Orekhov, between FC Basel 1893 and PFC CSKA Sofia in Group E of the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League. Basel won the game 3-1.
UEFA's Appeals Body considered that Mr Orekhov had violated the principles of conduct and his duty to disclose illicit approaches, set out in the UEFA regulations, in failing to immediately report to UEFA that he had received offers from certain individuals to take an active part in their match-fixing scheme.
The Appeals Body concluded that a life ban on exercising any football-related activity was the appropriate sanction to be imposed upon Mr Orekhov in view of the seriousness of the situation.
On 17 July 2010, Oleh Orekhov filed an appeal with CAS to request the annulment of the UEFA decision and a hearing was held in Lausanne on 15 December 2010, during which the parties, their legal representatives and their witnesses were heard.
The CAS Panel confirmed UEFA's decision and concluded that it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that there were repeated contacts between Mr Orekhov and the members of a criminal group involved in match-fixing and betting fraud. The CAS Panel considered that Oleh Orekhov deliberately violated the principles of conduct provided by the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations as he did not inform UEFA immediately that he had been approached to take part in a match-fixing scheme.
This appeal, brought by a referee against a finding of involvement in match-fixing and the sanction imposed upon him, is the first case of its kind in European football involving a match official as distinct from a player or coach. It therefore has an importance beyond that to the disputant parties.
In essence it confirms that sporting regulators must demonstrate zero tolerance against all kinds of corruption and must impose sanctions sufficient to serve as an effective deterrent to people who might otherwise be tempted to consider involvement in such criminal activities. It also backs the need for the highest standards of behaviour of all people involved at this level of the game, whether players, managers, coaches or officials. And finally, based on the above, it sets a benchmark for the severity of sanctions in such cases.
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