Macedonian FK Pobeda will have to wait eight years before taking to the field again, following developments that proved the club guilty of intentionally losing a match. As a result, the UEFA issued lifetime bans from European football to president Aleksandar Zabrcanec and ex-captain Nikolce Zdravevski, as reported by BBC. In addition, UEFA plans to request that the pair be banned from football activities worldwide, by asking FIFA to take the necessary measures.
The matter has been ongoing since 2004, when UEFA began investigating irregular betting patterns in a match against Pyunik. A UEFA disciplinary panel was put into place to deal with the results, revealing their decision after a hearing that lasted seven hours.
To arrive at a ruling, the panel confirmed that Zabrcanec and Zdravevski were guilty of match-fixing, leaving Pobeda at a 4-2 disadvantage over Pyunik. The findings likely came as no surprise to UEFA, with the pair initially suspected of “manipulating the outcome”.
UEFA president Michel Platini has been forthcoming about his feelings toward match-fixing, calling it the biggest problem in European football. While it may be easy to implement stricter regulations and practices, it can be very difficult to secure enough evidence to formally reprimand clubs.
While Pobeda represents the second club to be reprimanded by UEFA for match-fixing, Zabrcanec and Zdravevski are the first club officials to be held accountable.