"The FAI took away three years from me" | Igor Labuts wins CAS appeal

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Former Athlone Town goalkeeper Igor Labuts says he was determined to clear his name, after winning his appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. 

Labuts was banned from football for 12-months in 2017 by the FAI for breaching rules relating to gambling and match fixing following an investigation into betting patterns in a First Division game between Athlone and their rivals Longford Town in April of that year.

With support from the PFAI, he took to CAS and was cleared of any personal wrong doing by the court.

"It is hard to explain how personally devastating the last three years have been for me and my family," the Latvian 'keeper said in a statement.

"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 understand completely that they had to investigate the match and I cooperated in full. It was hugely disappointing to me that I was implicated without any evidence of wrongdoing. I was guilty only of making a mistake which some of the best goalkeepers in the world have made, or worse in some cases.

"To be crystal clear, I did not manipulate, have not manipulated and never would be involved in manipulating a football match. Integrity in football is the most important element of the game. Without that, we have nothing.

"My name has been dragged through the mud by the FAI when it was clear from the outset that there was never enough evidence to maintain a prosecution.

"Since the conviction and consequent ban, I have been unable to obtain a professional contract. A footballer's career is short and the FAI took away three years from me. I will never forgive them for that."

The FAI say they accept the ruling but highlighted that CAS agreed that "manipulation" had occurred during the game:

"The FAI notes the findings issued today by CAS in the Igor Labuts v Football Association of Ireland case and accepts the ruling.

"The FAI also notes that CAS upheld the association's original findings of manipulation around the Longford Town v Athlone Town fixture on 29 April, 2017. The FAI remains committed to the fight against match-fixing."

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