Former Athlone Town keeper Igors Labuts sees 12-month football suspension quashed by CAS

Sat, Jul 18 2020

Igors Labuts in action for Athlone Town Credit: Steve Alfred (ETPhotos)

Former Athlone Town goalkeeper Igors Labuts has seen his 12-month ban from football quashed by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) yesterday.

Labuts was handed a 12-month ban from the FAI after suspicious betting activity was detected surrounding the Longford Town vs Athlone Town clash in April 2017.

Labuts played in goal for the Blue and Black of the Midlands that night as his side fell to a 3-1 defeat away to their bitter midland rivals.

The FAI charged the Latvian keeper with breaching rules pertaining to bringing the game into disrepute, manipulating matches, and betting/gambling.

However, Labuts maintained his innocence and lost an appeal against the FAI Appeals Committee before going before CAS.

And as of yesterday, the verdict was overturned in Lausanne, Switzerland by CAS.

“The board of Athlone Town AFC welcomes today's judgment handed down by the Court of Arbitration of Sport quashing the 12-month suspension handed down to our former goalkeeper Igors Labuts,” a statement from Athlone Town read last night.

It continued: “In the club's opinion justice has been done for Igors, but questions remain to be answered regarding how the FAI investigated the matter.  

“The court's reasons for quashing the FAI's findings against Igors were concise, clear and raise serious issues for the Football Association and its disciplinary procedures.

“From the club's perspective the CAS ruling does not bring closure to the storm of allegations levelled at it over the last three years. 

“The club believes that An Garda Siochana should be once again asked to properly investigate the matter.

“Alternatively, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which is currently conducting an investigation into certain matters at the FAI could consider widening its existing probe into the association to include this affair.  

“Athlone Town AFC very much wants the full truth regarding the events that lead to the FAI investigation properly established once and for all.”

The club added: “The club accepts that suspicious betting patterns were detected by UEFA's Betting Fraud Detection System in our game against Longford Town on April 29th 2017. 

“In its ruling CAS has made certain findings on this report. Although it must be stressed that the contents of UEFA's BFDS report were not challenged during the appeal before CAS. 

“Given CAS's finding that match manipulation occurred, nobody more than Athlone Town AFC would like to know who in fact was responsible, and why was an innocent man charged and convicted by the FAI over something he did not commit?

“CAS held that there was no evidence to find Igors guilty of any wrong doing. Indeed that court's findings regarding the flawed case made against him by the FAI are telling. 

“The words of the American civil activist, statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin that  "it is better 100 guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer" are most apt given the vile abuse Igors, and others associated with our club, have suffered from an army of on-line trolls.  

“The club believes both it and Igors were badly treated by elements within FAI and certain sections of the media, who seemed more interested in blackening good names, especially Igors', rather than establishing the truth. 

“The club must once again publicly state that it was never charged with any wrongdoing following the FAI's probe.”

You can read Athlone’s statement in full here.