Integrity in sport: International Judo Federation unveils new rules to help combat threats of match fixing

Weekly Media Recap 5-11 January 2015

Police in Cyprus have detained Referees Association Chairman Michalis Argyrou and former referee Michalis Spyrou over their alleged involvement in the ongoing investigation into match-fixing. Spyrou had allegedly attempted to put pressure on another referee to alter the outcome of four games between 2010 and 2011.

In another development this week, a Dutch national who is suspected of fixing matches was handed over to German justice ministry officials. Paul R is suspected of involvement in large-scale match-fixing in 2008 and 2009 and is considered to be a central figure in an international match-fixing ring.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Cyprus

Police have detained Referees Association Chairman Michalis Argyrou and former referee Michalis Spyrou over their alleged involvement in the ongoing investigation into match-fixing. During the remand hearing, the court had heard how 56-year-old Spyrou had attempted to put pressure on another referee to alter the outcome of four games between 2010 and 2011 – two lower league games and two under-21 games. During those years, Spyrou had served as a member of the CFA’s Referees Committee and was chief of refereeing matters for Limassol and Paphos. The referee, in his statement to the police, said that Spyrou had telephoned him and asked him to help “certain clubs that had right-wing affiliations”. The games in question, according to investigators, are the third division game between Spartakos and Digenis Oroklini, the fourth division game between K/E Trachoni and Ayia Marina/Chrysochous as well as the under-21 games Aris Limassol-Omonia and Omonia-Paphos. He is under investigation for charges relating to corruption, bribery, abuse of power and dereliction of duty.

Source: "Football officials to remain in police custody ", 8 January 2015, incyprus.philenews, https://incyprus.philenews.com/en-gb/local-news/4422/43867/football-officials-to-remain-in-police-custody#sthash.RrappnTq.dpuf

Netherlands

A Dutch national who is suspected of fixing football matches was handed over to German justice ministry officials on Tuesday. Paul R is suspected of involvement in large-scale match-fixing in 2008 and 2009 and is considered to be a central figure in an international match-fixing ring. R has denied any involvement but admits to being an active gambler. A last-minute attempt to halt the extradition on Tuesday morning failed. His lawyers say it is unclear what will happen to him in Germany because no court case or hearings are as yet on the agenda. The man, known as ‘Rooie Paul’, comes from Noordwijk and was in jail in the Netherlands for fencing stolen paintings. He is currently appealing against that sentence. According to Voetbal International, German player René Schnitzler claims he was offered thousands of euros by R to throw a match for his old club FC Sankt Pauli.

Source: "Dutch match-fixing suspect extradited to Germany", 6 January 2015, Dutch news, https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/01/dutch-match-fixing-suspect-extradited-to-germany.php/

 

ODDS AND ENDS

Australia

Fears of match-fixing lurk in the background at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup as the stain of corruption proves hard to shift despite efforts to clean up the sport. While public attention will focus on the big matches in Australia, games between smaller teams will also be under scrutiny for potential manipulation by illicit betting rings. While the overall risk of match-fixing at the tournament is considered low, smaller teams with lower-paid players are considered more vulnerable to match-fixers. Swiss-based Sportradar, which has a partnership with the AFC, will monitor for unusual betting patterns once the tournament starts on Friday. The organisers remain on guard as match-fixing scandals have been uncovered in the region.

Source: "Authorities monitoring potential Asian Cup match-fixing", 8 January 2015, AAP, https://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/article/2015/01/08/authorities-monitoring-potential-asian-cup-match-fixing

Belgium

The appeal hearing dealing with the football match-fixing saga in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 opened at the Brussels Court of Appeal on Thursday. Most of those convicted last June in the so-called “match-fixing” trial had opted to appeal against the judgment of the Brussels criminal court. Among the convicted are figureheads in the case, former Lierse coach Paul Put, agent Pietro Allatta, and former La Louviere club president Filippo Gaone. 31 individuals and one company were on trial at the criminal court in 2014, accused of corruption, belonging to an organised crime gang, money laundering, extortion, fraud, and in some cases, tax evasion, organising a fraudulent bankruptcy, and misuse of company property. Most of these charges were found to be proven beyond reasonable doubt by the criminal court.

Source: "2004-2006 football match-fixing case - appeal hearing begins", 8 January 2015, The Brussels Times, https://www.thebrusselstimes.com/belgium/2004-2006-football-match-fixing-case-appeal-hearing-begins

Belgium

The Royal Belgian Football Association has requested more information regarding the friendly match played between Heerenveen and Standard on January 9 in Murcia, Spain. A similar request has been made by the Royal Dutch Football Association following suspicions of match-fixing. The match ended in a chaotic way. The Heerenveen players left the field before the end of the game after the Spanish referee Raul Nicholas Espejo retracted a penalty he had previously given to the Belgian team. The Heerenveen coach, Dwight Lodeweges commented after the game saying he didn’t want to speculate but he had the feeling a certain result was “necessary”. A spokesperson for the Royal Belgian Football Association confirmed that its Competitions Manager, Thibault De Gendt is communicating with his Dutch counterpart and the Integrity Officer of UEFA. De Gendt confirmed that for now there is not enough information to decide if an investigation will be opened.

Source: "L'Union belge se penche sur Standard-Heerenveen", 10 January 2015, Belga, https://www.7sur7.be/7s7/fr/1508/Sports/article/detail/2177951/2015/01/10/L-Union-belge-se-penche-sur-Standard-Heerenveen.dhtml

International Judo Federation

The International Judo Federation (IJF) global governing body has unveiled an updated set of rules to help combat the threat of match fixing in the sport. If any IJF contest appears to have been played to a pre-determined result, further investigation may take place and any evidence of match fixing will result in disciplinary action. In the event of athletes from the same nation facing each other and one withdraws through injury or illness, they must obtain a medical certificate from the IJF Commissioner. Meanwhile, the IJF has said that the result of any content will be cancelled if an athlete is found not to be telling the truth.

Source: "Judo body unveils match-fixing measures", 5 January 2015, igamingbusiness, https://www.igamingbusiness.com/news/judo-body-unveils-match-fixing-measures

Japan

Japan coach Javier Aguirre attempted on Sunday to brush off intrigue into his role in a Spanish match-fixing inquiry which continues to overshadow the holder's Asian Cup defence. Japan begin their campaign in Newcastle on Monday against debutants Palestine with a comfortable victory predicted for the Blue Samurai. With that being the case, the Mexican was asked about being named by Spain's anti-corruption prosecutor in a probe into Real Zaragoza's 2-1 win at Levante on the final day of the 2010-11 La Liga campaign where Aguirre's Zaragoza side won to avoid relegation. The prosecutor alleged the Levante players were paid a total of 965,000 euros to deliberately lose the game. Aguirre has long denied he fixed a game and didn't welcome further questioning. "I have already held a press conference to speak about this a few weeks ago and won't be answering that question," he told reporters on Sunday. "I have been at four World Cups, four Gold Cups and three Copa Americas and in each of those tournaments I have only ever spoken about soccer. That is what I want to do at my first Asian Cup."

Source: Patrick Johnston, "Match-fixing claims continue to haunt Japan's Aguirre", 10 January 2015, Reuters, https://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/01/11/uk-soccer-asia-japan-idUKKBN0KK07M20150111

Uganda

Following the Cranes’ (Uganda’s national team) 0-2 loss to Guinea in the ultimate 2015 Afcon qualifier last November, word was rife that in that particular game, there was some match-fixing. And because of the mistakes made by the Cranes Captain Andy Mwesigwa in that game, fingers were heavily pointed at him as a possible culprit. However, Mwesigwa quashed that talk saying: “My conscience is clear and I could never sell my country.” He added: “I am responsible for the team’s loss as a captain, but I have done a lot for the national team, and it hurts that people can make such damaging allegations against me.” Mwesigwa, who was sent off in that game, following a professional foul on a Guinea player that resulted in the penalty, said no one could have wanted the team to qualify as much as he did.

Source: Elly Kyeyune, "Mwesigwa denies match-fixing allegations", 8 January 2015, The Observer, https://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35840:-mwesigwa-denies-match-fixing-allegations&catid=44:sports&Itemid=80

Vietnam

The chairman of the scandal-plagued Vissai Ninh Binh football club filed a petition to shut down the club after nine players were convicted of gambling and banned from play for life. According to Chairman Pham Van Le, the club’s leaders no longer have heart and motivation to carry on under the cloud of disgrace that settled over them during the match-fixing scandal that broke during the 2014 AFC Cup. On Tuesday, the northern club's headquarters was closed to all of its divisions. On December 25, VFF’s Disciplinary Board issued a decision that banned the nine former Vissai Ninh Binh players for life, in addition to fining them an additional VND20 million each for gambling and match fixing. On August 25, the Ninh Binh People’s Court sentenced Vissai Ninh Binh defender Tran Manh Dung to 30 months in prison for match fixing. Eight other players from the Vissai Ninh Binh Club received suspended sentences for betting on an AFC match against Malaysia’s Kelantan on March 18.

Source: Quang Duan - Dinh Dung, "Vissai Ninh Binh FC to close down after match-fixing trial", 7 January 2015, Thanh Nien News, https://www.thanhniennews.com/sports/vissai-ninh-binh-fc-to-close-down-after-matchfixing-trial-37264.html

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