The Malta Independent 8 December 2021, Wednesday

Two clubs blast football commentator, claim he insinuated match fixing while commentating

Albert Galea Saturday, 27 February 2021, 09:07 Last update: about 10 months ago

Zurrieq FC and Birzebbuga St. Peters FC have blasted commentator Josef Galdes for suggesting that a player involved in a match between the two clubs had fixed the game after a close range miss.

Galdes – a football commentator and journalist who has had his fair share of controversy in the past – was commentating on the semi-final of the National Amateur Cup between Zurrieq and Birzebbuga last weekend, when Birzebbuga striker Keith Muscat sent a close range shot over the bar just before half-time.

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In reaction to the miss, Galdes said “is-suspetti tieghi huma li llejla ghandu x’jiekol mhux hazin” (my suspicions are that he has quite a bit to eat tonight).

Zurrieq, who came into this match as the favourites given the league performances of the two clubs, would go on to win the match 2-0, having been 1-0 up at the time of the miss.

A joint statement by the two clubs who partook in the game said that in his choice of words, Galdes had insinuated foul play by Muscat.

“We condemn this type of reporting in which the only motive is to tarnish the reputation of the clubs and particularly that of the Birzebbuga player Mr. Muscat”, the clubs said.

They said that they were expecting Galdes to issue an apology towards the clubs and the player, and added that “match fixing is one of the main threats in our beloved game and such comments can only do harm to the parties involved.”

Joined Statement With Birzebbuga St. Peters F.C.

Posted by Żurrieq Football Club on Friday, February 26, 2021

In a statement shared to a Facebook group which he administers, Galdes denied that he had implied any form of match fixing, and explained that his choice of words were referring to how the player was going to be lamenting his failure to convert the chance after the match and how he would be “biting his nails in anxiety over the thought of that chance”.

He categorically denied the allegation that he tried to tarnish the reputation of the involved clubs or of the player at hand.

“The clubs asked for clarification and I am man enough to explain the facts. Like the clubs said that they are against match fixing, I too with my head held high declare that I am against match fixing and that journalistic ethics provides that if I have any suspicion or evidence of match fixing I would undoubtedly report it to the MFA Secretary General, MFA Integrity Officer, and Police as I have done in the past”, Galdes said.

He said that he hoped that this “small incident” is simply down to a miscommunication, admitting that during his commentary he could have expressed himself better in order not to give rise to speculation.

It is not the first time that Galdes has courted controversy over his overzealous commentary.

In 2010, while commentating on a Premier League match between Sliema Wanderers and Qormi FC on Smash TV, he called referee Chris Lautier “il-figolla tas-sena” and made several other disparaging remarks against him.

Lautier filed a libel case against Galdes and Smash TV managing editor Jesmar Baldacchino over the commentary, and Magistrate Francesco Depasquale ruled in the referee’s favour.

In his judgement, the Magistrate said that the commentary was of a very low level and verged on the ridiculous, and condemned Galdes and Baldacchino to a fine of 1,500 each.  An appeals court later found that Baldacchino was not responsible for damages over Galdes' commentary and exonerated him from all liability.

The game between Zurrieq and Birzebbuga can be viewed below, with the action of Keith Muscat's close range miss and Galdes' subsequent commentary appearing at 53:22 minutes.

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