On July 15, 2016, CEELM reported that Primus represented the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF) in an arbitration with a football club and its players involving sanctions the LFF had imposed following match-fixing-related investigations before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), based in Lausanne, Switzerland. We reached out to the President of the Lithuanian Football Federation Edvinas Eimontas to get his insight into the matter.
CEELM: We understand the dispute began with the football club contesting sanctions related to match-fixing. To the extent you can share this information, how were these fixed matches originally identified?
E.E.: The LFF works closely with a company called Sportradar, which analyzes betting patterns of matches played in Lithuanian top and second divisions. These betting patterns are highlighted in UEFA Betting Fraud Detection System (UEFA BFDS) reports. As regards the matches in question, the UEFA BFDS reports demonstrated beyond any doubt that the outcome of these matches was determined in advance for the purpose of making corrupt betting profits. As stated in the UEFA BFDS reports, the suspicious betting patterns observed exceed the acceptable threshold to conclude that they were manipulated for betting purposes.
CEELM: According to the statement released by Primus, "this CAS award shall have a big impact on the fight against match-fixing in the future." Why is that? How will it support your efforts in this fight?
E.E.: The fight against match–fixing is a harsh fight, because you need a full pack of evidence in order to confront the offender and try to push him away from football by imposing appropriate sanctions. All the sports bodies, including the LFF, used to get into a deep hole when they needed to prove match-fixing. However, the LFF was eager to find better solutions and effective ways to deal with it. Therefore, in 2015 it introduced a disciplinary system according to which the offender could be punished based on the presumption of match-fixing. According to this system, the LFF is required to prove the suspicion that the player could be involved in match-fixing. The UEFA BFDS reports and an analysis of particular match videos are deemed to be sufficient evidence to prove such suspicion.
CEELM: Primus also states that, "disciplinary bodies of federations will be able to investigate potential match fixing violations while assessing experts’ conclusions based on analysis of particular match videos." Can you give us some details as to how this analysis of videos will work in practice?
E.E.: Video analysis is required when the match-fixing fact is established. In case of match-fixing there must always be somebody on the pitch who is involved in match-fixing. Therefore, video analysis is used in order to pick those players who are possibly involved. This function is delegated to the football-expert group, which consist of members with well-established experience in football. This group basically decides which players do not do their job properly in the field and play the game in a suspicious way.
CEELM: What were the main reasons you turned to Primus for legal representation on this matter?
E.E.: One of the main reasons was their experience in CAS case law. And their constant involvement and thorough understanding of sport in Lithuania, and globally, of course.
CEELM: Since your association does not have a legal function, did you coordinate with your counsel directly or was it the members of the disciplinary board who did so? How did your cooperation with the firm go?
E.E.: The LFF does have a legal counsel. Basically, he coordinated the whole process and communicated with Primus and our legal partner from Switzerland, Libra Law, which worked on this case as well. The cooperation was smooth and professional.