ZAGREB: A court in Croatia has ordered UEFA to pay damages of €100,000 to former referee Bruno Maric over defamation linked to matchfixing allegations.
UEFA has said it will appeal against the verdict, in the eastern town of Daruvar. The case enhanced concerns over the activities of former UEFA investigator Robin Boksic who was sacked by the European federation in 2010.
Maric had sued UEFA for €1m damages and a public apology after his name was linked with alleged manipulation of the 2009 Croat Cup Final in which Dinamo Zagreb beat Hajduk Split 3-0. Maric sent off two Hajduk players and awarded Dinamo a penalty.
The court ordered him to pay the costs of the hearing, against which his lawyer, Vladimir Gredelj, insisted he would appeal.
Gredelj added: “UEFA does not deserve to be forgiven a single penny. They treated my client in a humiliating and arrogant way. The court did not set the compensation correctly because it did not take into account that everything that had been said about Maric has reached millions of people.”
Maric said: “I was not so concerned with the financial part of the judgment. For me the most important thing is that UEFA was found guilty for what it did to me and my family. This shows they cannot do whatever they want to people.”
Croat football has suffered a series of matchfixing and financial scandals in recent years.
Maric was questioned by over the allegations by Boksic, who was then a member of UEFA’s team of investigators. However no charges were ever brought against him.
The referee then launched legal proceedings against UEFA, Boksic and former chief investigator Peter Limacher alleging defamation, threats, coercion and abuse of office.
The trial opened last year when the court called UEFA president Michel Platini to appear but he declined on the European federation’s legal advice. UEFA, the court was told, had sought an out-of-court settlement in the sum of €10,000 which Maric had rejected.
Judge Maja Sikora described UEFA’s investigation as “amateurish” and ordered that the sums should be paid within 15 days.
This was not the first time Limacher and Boksic’s activities have cost UEFA legal problems.
Two years ago, Limacher was fined €9,000 and Boksic €5,400 by a court in Hamburg which found them guilty of slander over claims that Bayern Munich had been paid to lose a 2008 UEFA Cup semi-final against the competition’s eventual winners Zenit St Petersburg.
The German club lost 4-0 away to Zenit on May 1, 2008, in the second leg of the semi-final after being held 1-1. Zenit went on to beat Scotland’s Rangers 2-0 in the final in Manchester.
Later UEFA cleared Bayern and Boksic and Limacher were shown the door for what it described at the time as “potential conflict of interest and of alleged involvement in irregular activities.”
Boksic had been hired initially by UEFA in 2009 after he had approached the governing body with information about matchfixing and illegal betting.
He had also made similar claims to FIFA to whose then head of security, Chris Eaton, he was introduced on a reference from Limacher.