Integrity in sport update: concerns over match-fixing in Badminton

Weekly Media Recap 6-12 April 2015

This week, Singapore has sentenced a former Malaysian national football player to two years in prison for match-fixing. Thanasegar S. Sinnaiah and two others fixed a match between the Lions XII and Sarawak FA in the Malaysian Super League in May 2012.

Also in the news, a serious match-fixing allegation has been made in Portugal. Two players from club Farense reported an approach by a foreign individual to fix their upcoming match against Atletico de Portugal. The alleged fixer has claimed links to two players from Atletico but they strongly deny any involvement, threatening to take legal action.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Badminton - Japan

Match-fixing in badminton may be more widespread than people think, world top 10 men’s player Hans-Kristian Vittinghus told Kyodo News in a phone interview. Vittinghus, who is also vice president of the Danish Badminton Athletes Commission, said that a few days before the Japan Open in June 2014, he was studying in his hotel room when he received a Facebook message from a man he had met at previous tournaments. The man said "he knew a guy, a bookie who was fixing matches, if I had any interest in doing that,” Vittinghus said. “Of course I declined straight away and said I was quite disappointed to be asked.” While Vittinghus was telling his teammates about the incident a few hours later, the man sent the same message to fellow Danish player Kim Astrup. The players then agreed to gain as much information from the man as possible, reporting the incident to the Badminton World Federation’s whistleblower system later that evening. “We were just shocked that it’s so close,” Vittinghus said. “This guy said they had also fixed matches at the Singapore Open earlier that year, and also at the Thomas & Uber Cup.

Source: "Man tried to fix Japan Open matches", 9 April 2015, Japan Times, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2015/04/09/more-sports/man-tried-fix-japan-open-matches/

Cricket - India

A Rajasthan Royals cricketer was approached for fixing matches in the 2015 Indian Premier League, the team management said Friday. The Royals reaction came after The Indian Express reported on Friday that a Mumbai-based Royals player was approached by his Ranji Trophy team-mate “with an offer of money if he followed a pre-decided pattern of play.” The player refused the offer and informed his team management, which then reported it to the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit. Royals Chief Executive Officer Raghu Iyer praised the player for reporting the incident. "Rajasthan Royals commends the player for having reported this incident immediately and for his honesty and uprightness. His dedication to maintain the highest standards of integrity needs to be lauded," said Iyer.

Source: "Rajasthan Royals Reports Match-Fixing Offer to Player", 10 April 2015, India West, https://www.indiawest.com/sports/rajasthan-royals-reports-match-fixing-offer-to-player/article_72dc28e0-df73-11e4-aac3-c3c6e37b70b7.html

Portugal

Portuguese club Farense informed on Thursday that a foreign individual had contacted two of its players, Califo from Guinea Bissau and Kiki Ballack from Cape Verde, to offer them money to lose the upcoming match against Atletico de Portugal. The two footballers reported the event to the club’s President, Antonio Barao, who in turn informed the league’s President, Luis Duque. Atletico later issued a statement denying its involvement in such events and labelling them as ‘surreal’, claiming that it is just an attempt to harm the club. Silas and Dady from Atletico were identified by the individual attempting to fix the match as the ones who had provided the contacts of the two players from Farense. They have denied all involvement and have announced that they will take legal action.

Source: "Intento de soborno en segunda división del fútbol de Portugal?", 10 April 2015, EFE, https://www.elespectador.com/deportes/futbolinternacional/intento-de-soborno-segunda-division-del-futbol-de-portu-articulo-554278

South Africa

South Africa's sports minister says he has received assurances from FIFA's ethics committee that it will complete and present a report in June into allegations of match-fixing in the buildup to the 2010 World Cup. Fikile Mbalula said he met with the chairman of the ethics committee's investigatory chamber, Cornel Borbely, in Zurich this week to seek clarity on the status of the report. FIFA said as far back as 2011 that it had strong suspicions that some of the South African national team's warm-up games in the weeks before it hosted the World Cup were fixed. No players were implicated, but referees were suspected of working for convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal and manipulating matches.

Source: "FIFA report due in June over alleged South Africa match-fixing", 11 April 2015, AP, https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/story/fifa-report-due-in-june-over-alleged-south-africa-match-fixing-041115

 

GOOD PRACTICE

Spain

The government aims to limit advertising made by betting houses and other on line games. The draft law looks at measures that will, for example, stop the updating of betting odds during the re-plays of sporting events, or the using of famous people to advertise these kinds of activities. In addition to placing limits on advertising, the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling aims to promote responsible behavior and control possible compulsive conducts from players.

Source: "El Gobierno quiere limitar la promoción de las apuestas deportivas y el póker 'on line'", 12 April 2015, Diario Gol, https://www.diariogol.com/es/notices/2015/04/el-gobierno-quiere-limitar-la-promocion-de-las-apuestas-deportivas-y-el-poker-online-49947.php

Vietnam

Disgraced Vietnamese football club Vissai Ninh Binh FC, who folded last year after nine players were banned for match-fixing, have revealed plans to reform. Ninh Binh officials have petitioned the government and Vietnam Football Federation to allow them to resume next year with a revamped squad of young players, the club said in a statement on Sunday. In August, a Vietnam court jailed their former international Tran Manh for 30 months and dished out suspended sentences to eight other players found guilty of colluding with a bookmaker to throw a second tier regional AFC Cup game in March 2014 in return for a $40,000 bribe. That led to Ninh Binh withdrawing from the V. League amid fears domestic matches could have been rigged but they were surprisingly allowed to continue in the AFC Cup, eventually getting knocked out in the quarter-finals.

Source: Patrick Johnston, "Vietnamese side plan to reform after match-fixing scandal", 6 April 2015, Reuters, https://in.reuters.com/article/2015/04/06/soccer-asia-vietnam-idINKBN0MX08920150406

 

ODDS AND ENDS

China

For the Chinese Super League (CSL) club Shanghai Shenhua, a new season has brought fresh optimism. After several years of turmoil during which the team was stripped of its 2003 CSL title in a match-fixing investigation and the foreign stars Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka departed midway through their contracts amid a shareholder dispute, Shenhua is rediscovering success, with three wins to start the season. Shenhua is emblematic of the new and improved Chinese Super League: it is increasingly globalized, brimming with newfound professionalism and flush with cash.

Chinese soccer used to be difficult for fans to enjoy — the CSL was mired in corruption scandals and uninspired play. The league’s mismanagement had an effect with the national team as well. Just when it seemed Chinese soccer could not sink any lower, the government decided it had seen enough. A corruption crackdown shook up the CSL., resulting in the arrests of dozens of top-level officials, national players and referees on match-fixing charges. And the suddenly, with credibility at least partly restored, sponsors and investment returned in a big way, along with the sport’s disillusioned fans.

Source: "With Rebound of Top League, Chinese Soccer Kicks Into Higher Gear", 11 April 2015, AP, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/sports/soccer/with-rebound-of-top-league-chinese-soccer-kicks-into-high-gear.html?_r=0

Cyprus

The Cypriot league’s problems are simultaneously simple and complex, but money is the root of many of its ills. There is little regulation when a new owner takes over a team, so when the European financial crisis buckled the economy in recent years, many clubs were overwhelmed by the fallout from risky decisions made in better times. With money so scarce, it seems everyone has a story in which they were, or someone they knew was, offered cash in exchange for ensuring a game’s result. In 2013, FIFPro, the global players’ union, issued a release to its members warning them against signing contracts with Cypriot teams because clubs there routinely failed to honor them. And Federbet, a European company that tracks betting patterns in soccer, revealed that its evaluations of matches in Cyprus in 2014 indicated that more than half of the games showed signs of having been manipulated.

Source: Sam Borden, "Latest Score in Cyprus Soccer: Blown-up cars 6, Referees 0", 9 April 2015, NY Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/10/sports/soccer/as-bombings-add-up-cyprus-soccer-hits-a-new-low.html?_r=0

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Singapore

A former Malaysian national footballer was jailed for two years on Thursday for match-fixing. Thanasegar S. Sinnaiah, 40, had abetted project manager Selvarajan Letchuman to corruptly give RM15,000 to Malaysian part-time referee Shokri Nor to ensure that LionsXII beat Sarawak FA in the Malaysian Super League by at least three goals in May 2012. The match ended in a 3-0 win for LionsXII. All three were arrested before the match kicked off.

Thanasegar had also abetted Selvarajan and Shokri in a conspiracy to cheat Singapore Pools by dishonestly concealing the match-fixing arrangements.

Source: "Ex-Malaysian football player jailed 2 years for match-fixing", 9 April 2015, The Straits Times / Asia News Network, https://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/04/09/Court-Match-fixing/

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