UEFA probes Macedonian match-fix

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NYON, Switzerland — UEFA is investigating more allegations of match-fixing in Macedonia, where it recently banned former champion FK Pobeda from European competitions for eight years.

The European football authority said Tuesday its gathering evidence about four suspect matches involving three Macedonian clubs, including a Europa League fixture played last month.

FK Milano, runner-up in the Macedonian championship last season, was beaten 12-2 on aggregate by Croatia’s Slaven Koprivnika in the second qualifying round.

It lost 4-0 in the July 16 first leg at home with Slaven scoring all the goals in the first half, then lost 8-2 in Croatia a week later.

The lopsided defeat in a first leg at home is similar to the Pobeda case which saw the club become the first to be banned from UEFA-organized competitions.

In April a UEFA disciplinary panel ruled that Pobeda deliberately lost its Champions League qualifying match against Armenian club Pyunik in July 2004. It trailed by three goals at halftime, eventually losing 3-1, then was eliminated after tying the second match 1-1 in Armenia.

UEFA received reports from bookmakers of irregular betting patterns and banned Pobeda’s president and a former player for life after finding they had manipulated the result “to gain an undue advantage for themselves and a third party.”

Michel Platini, the UEFA president, said at the organization’s congress in Copenhagen last March that match-fixing and illegal betting are the greatest problems facing European football.

UEFA’s investigation unit is also looking at FK Vardar’s loss to Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus in the UEFA Cup in July-August 2007. Vardar lost both ties 1-0, conceding an 88th-minute goal in the first match at home.

A third club, Rabotnicki, is the subject of probes into two suspect matches which were not identified.

UEFA had previously opened an investigation into bets made on an Intertoto Cup match between Makedonija and Bulgarian side Cherno More in July 2007. The Macedonian side lost 4-0 at home and then 3-0 in Bulgaria.

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