Former Athlone Town goalkeeper Igor Labuts, who had previously been issued with a ban from football after being found of match fixing, has had his sanction overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) had initially issued a 12-month ban to the Latvian in September 2017 due to suspicious betting patterns after a 3-1 loss to Longford Town that April.
While CAS agreed that the results had been manipulated, they ruled against the FAI judgement that Labuts had been directly involved. FAI has since been ordered to pay 3,000 Swiss Francs (€2,800) to Labuts to cover his costs.
Labuts, who had already served his suspension, said: “I thought this day would never come. It is hard to explain how personally devastating the last three years have been for me and my family. I came to Ireland with the intention of making it to the Premier Division and I hoped to put myself in the shop window with Athlone Town.
“I am not the best goalkeeper in the world but I thought with the right training and experience, I could improve my consistency levels and have a reasonable career in the League of Ireland. This was taken away from me by the FAI.
“I have since returned to playing futsal and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given in that sport,” he continued. “I still hope to return to playing professional football at some point and I hope this vindication will help.”
Labuts was represented by the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland (PFAI), which had raised concerns over the way that expert witness testimony was used to assess Labuts’ actions in the game.