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Sammut handed lifetime ban

Maltese soccer player Kevin Sammut
Kevin Sammut's 10-year suspension has been extended to a lifetime ban by UEFA.
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GENEVA (AP)

Malta international Kevin Sammut has been banned from football for life after UEFA found him guilty of helping to fix a European Championship qualifying match in a betting scam.

His lawyer, Michael Sciriha, told The Associated Press on Monday that UEFA's appeals panel increased Sammut's 10-year ban to a lifetime expulsion on Friday.

Sammut denies colluding with a Croatian-led match-fixing syndicate in June 2007 to manipulate Malta's 4-0 loss in Norway in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

Sciriha said Sammut could appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after getting the detailed verdict from UEFA.

''We have to wait for the reasoned decision, then we will make a decision,'' Sciriha said by telephone. ''We are very disappointed that after a six, seven hours' hearing, they (the appeal panel) came to a decision after 15 minutes.''

UEFA said it planned to publish a statement about the case later Monday.

The appeal last Friday was required after both sides challenged a 10-year ban imposed on Sammut by UEFA's disciplinary panel in August.

The 31-year-old midfielder sought to clear his name and the governing body requested a lifetime sanction, to prevent him ever coaching or working in the game.

UEFA has not specified its evidence used to convict Sammut of helping to fix the match in Oslo.

The plot was detailed last year during a criminal trial in Bochum, Germany, by Marijo Cvrtak, an associate of convicted match-fixer Ante Sapina.

Cvrtak claimed that he met three Malta players in their Oslo hotel who would arrange the fix.

Norway, then ranked No. 36 in FIFA's world rankings, was favored to beat No. 117 Malta. Three late goals boosted payouts on potential bets such as how many goals would be scored and the margin of Malta's defeat.

Sammut was substituted at halftime when Malta trailed 1-0. His teammates Kenneth Scicluna and Stephen Wellman, who both played the full 90 minutes, were also charged by UEFA but cleared.

In the Bochum court, Sapina and Cvrtak were said to have made millions in betting profits by bribing referees, players and officials to help manipulate matches and results.

Cvrtak was found guilty on 26 counts of fraud and attempted fraud and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in jail. Sapina, who was previously jailed in a 2005 German refereeing scandal, got the same sentence.

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