Life ban upheld for Ukraine referee due to fixing

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Associated Press

Posted on January 18, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 18 at 12:04 PM

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Ukrainian referee Oleh Orekhov must serve a life ban from football for involvement with a match-fixing crime syndicate.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday dismissed Orekhov's appeal against his expulsion by European football authority UEFA.

The FIFA-approved referee had "repeated contacts" with members of a criminal group involved in match-fixing and betting fraud, sport's highest court said.

"The CAS panel concluded that ... a life ban from any football-related activity was a proportionate sanction," the court said in a statement.

The case against Orekhov centered on evidence provided by German police in Bochum who are leading Europe's biggest-ever investigation into organized match-fixing.

Orekhov was offered "approximately €50,000 ($67,000)" to manipulate a Europa League match between FC Basel and CSKA Sofia in November 2009, the ruling said.

Basel was awarded a first-half penalty to take a 2-0 lead and eventually won 3-1.

At an ongoing criminal trial in Bochum, one gang leader said in evidence this month that he met with Orekhov in Kiev and made a €150,000 profit betting on the match.

CAS said proof of Orekhov's "effective manipulation" of the match could not be established in the appeal hearing.

However, UEFA rules oblige match officials, club officials and players to report any attempt to corrupt a match.

UEFA's disciplinary and appeal committees both ruled last year that Orekhov should serve a life ban as he "violated ... his duty to disclose illicit approaches," CAS said.

In his defense, Orekhov told the panel he failed to inform UEFA of his contact with match-fixers "because of his inadequate command of English."

Orekhov also argued that he had not known who to tell of the illegal approach, the ruling stated.

Orekhov, 43, joined the FIFA list of international referees in 2003. Retirement is mandatory at 45.

He officiated in two 2010 World Cup qualifying matches, including eventual winner Spain's 3-0 victory against Estonia in September 2009. One year earlier, he also took charge of Montenegro's first World Cup match, a 2-2 draw at home to Bulgaria.

Orekhov is the second international referee that UEFA has banned for life after the Bochum investigation was publicized in November 2009.

Novo Panic of Bosnia was expelled soon after he officiated in an Under-21 European Championship match between Switzerland and Georgia.

In the Bochum trial, Panic also has been linked with attempts to fix a World Cup qualifier between Liechtenstein and Finland in September 2009.

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