Integrity In Sport Update: Croatian soccer player jailed for 12 months for his involvement in match-fixing case in Hong Kong

Weekly Media Recap 15-21 December 2014

Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors have filed 42 charges in connection with the alleged fixing of the Levante – Real Zaragoza 2011 match. Charges were brought against players, Real Zaragoza club officials and the club itself. Those convicted could face prison sentences ranging from one to four years and bans ranging from six months to four years.

International referee Marios Panayi claimed he has evidence of extensive match fixing and corruption in Cypriot professional football. According to him, officials in the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) and referees are allegedly involved in manipulating matches and deciding which teams will be relegated.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Bulgaria

Bulgarian police investigating the match-fixing scandal in the country have said that their focus is on matches from Bulgaria's top division - A grupa. Earlier this week Bulgarian law enforcement authorities, working with the Bulgarian FA and UEFA advisors, launched a massive crackdown on match-fixing, the result being the arrest and questioning of nine players. Initially it was believed that the object of the investigating were friendly games played abroad involving Lokomotiv Plovdiv and Luybimets. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior Svetlozar Lazarov has revealed that matches in question are from the national championship. He declined to give the exact number of players questioned, since the investigation is still ongoing, however it is understood to be considerably more than the initial nine players the police swooped on in their first raids.

Source: Alexander Krassimirov, "Bulgarian match-fixing arrests focussed on top league and top teams ", 18 December 2014, Inside World Football, https://www.insideworldfootball.com/world-football/europe/16054-bulgarian-match-fixing-arrests-focussed-on-top-league-and-top-teams

Spain

Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors have filed 42 charges in relation to match-fixing allegations from the 21st May 2011 match between Levante and Real Zaragoza. The prosecutors believe they have sufficient evidence that Real Zaragoza paid off Levante to intentionally lose to the tune of EUR965,000 (the match ended 2-1 for Real Zaragoza) in order to stay in the Primera. Following countless interviews over the past several months, the prosecutors have brought 42 charges against all 28 players who played that day, former Real Zaragoza president Agapito Iglesias, two of Iglesias’ directors, former Real Zaragoza and current Japan national team manager Javier Aguirre and several of the bench players. The group also specifically charged Real Zaragoza in one of the 42 charges, to highlight their involvement and possible transfer fraud. This case, the first of its kind in Spain, could see prison sentences of one and four years and bans of six months and four years for those players and staff, if ultimately convicted.

Source: Tom Conn, "Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors file 42 charges in Levante vs Real Zaragoza match-fixing scandal", 16 December 2014, Inside Spanish Football, https://www.insidespanishfootball.com/140405/spanish-anti-corruption-prosecutors-file-42-charges-in-levante-vs-real-zaragoza-match-fixing-scandal/

United Kingdom

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has declared that his conscience was "totally clear" after he was one of 41 people named in a Spanish match-fixing probe. Writing on Facebook on Tuesday, he said: "In an on-going legal process involving Real Zaragoza (Spain), the club I was honoured to play (for) from 12 until 22 years of age, there are 41 people cited as possible witnesses, of which I am one. I have never had and will never have anything to do with manipulating match results. "If I am ever called to testify in any judicial hearing, I'll be happy to attend, as my conscience is totally clear. I love football and I believe in fair play, both on and off the pitch."

Source: "Ander Herrera's conscience clear over match-fixing probe", 17 December 2014, AFP, https://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/ander-herreras-conscience-clear-over-matchfixing-probe-20141216-128pao.html

 

ODDS AND ENDS

Australia

A Victoria Police bid to extradite Singaporean match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal has been abandoned because he could not be charged under the state's weak sports integrity legislation. Two detectives travelled to Finland to interview Perumal, but discovered the mastermind of Australia's biggest match fixing scandal could not be charged because he had never set foot in Victoria. The legislative error also hampered the investigation into tennis match fixing and may result in Nick Lindahl, a former top-200 ranked player who police say tanked at least one match, escaping charges. Under the Crimes Act, there must be a clause inserted to allow charges against people who were not in Victoria when an offence occurred. Police were staggered to find the clause had not been included in sports integrity legislation introduced last year, given the most serious match fixing cases were likely to have international or interstate links. The Office of Public Prosecutions is working on amending the legislation.

Source: Nino Bucci, "Bid to extradite match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal thwarted by hole in law", 15 December 2014, The Sydney Morning Herald, https://www.smh.com.au/business/bid-to-extradite-match-fixer-wilson-raj-perumal-thwarted-by-hole-in-law-20141214-12613l.html#ixzz3LxvcfWWY

Cyprus

International referee Marios Panayi claimed he has evidence of extensive match fixing and corruption in Cypriot professional football. During a press conference, he stated that the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) appoints referees who are willing to shape the game’s outcome and that they are the ones who decide which teams are relegated. He identified CFA’s deputy chairman Giorgos Koumas as the man behind the curtain, claiming that he is the one who decides on referee appointments and that he has close ties to football clubs and political parties. According to Panayi, the head of the Cyprus Refereeing Committee, Hans Reijgwart is “fully under the control of the people who run things in Cypriot football.” The referee mentioned that in April 2012 he was asked to referee a top league match, that would decide which team would be relegated, but refused to go, fearing that he would be asked to fix the match. While Panayi didn’t specify which teams he was referring to, it is understood that he was talking about the April 22, 2012 game between Aris Limassol and Enosis Paralimni. Aris lost and was relegated to the second division. Former club head Kyriakos Hadjikyriakos had told the press then that his team “was up against 13 players.” The match in question was also flagged by UEFA in a “yellow dossier” case.

Source: Constantinos Psillides, "Match-fixing rife in Cyprus, says ref", 18 December 2014, Cyprus Mail, https://cyprus-mail.com/2014/12/18/match-fixing-rife-in-cyprus-says-ref/

Nicaragua

Nicargua’s national team could be linked to more match-fixing cases. In an interview published on invisible-dog.com, Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal claimed the friendly game played in 2012 against Puerto Rico was fixed. According to Perumal, Tan Seet Eng continues to fix matches and was involved in manipulating the following games: Venezuela vs Moldova; El Salvador vs Moldova; Puerto Rico vs Nicaragua. Perumal didn’t specify which team fixed the match. FENIFUT General Secretary, Jose Maria Bermudez said that members of Nicaragua’s national team could be involved. Nicaragua’s former coach, Enrique Llena had voiced concerns regarding the loss to Puerto Rico prior to his departure.

Source: "Posiblemente hay más partidos amañados de la Selección nica de fútbol", 15 December 2014, La Prensa, https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2014/12/15/deportes/1559276-mas-partidos-amanados

Sierra Leone

The founder and owner of the Edmond Michael Football Foundation has secured a High Court injunction to clear his name in a civil court over accusation by the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) of his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scam. Former SLFA presidential aspirant Rodney Michael, who was disqualified from the August 3, 2013 race due to his role as consultant for the sports betting company, hopes to prove his innocence in a court of law. Michael claimed that: "The FA considers me as an opposition and as such would want to tarnish my image and destroy my reputation I have worked so hard to maintain for the past 28 years in football." He said his legal team now handling the matter has also made his feelings known to FIFA as the matter has also been referred to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for further investigation. Michael, alongside 14 others including players and referees, were suspended by the SLFA on allegation of match-fixing.

Source: Sahr Morris Jr., "Sierra Leone: Over SLFA Match-Fixing Claim Rodney Michael Granted High Court Injunction", 18 December 2014, Concord Times, https://allafrica.com/stories/201412181647.html

Sierra Leone

Members of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) decided to dissolve the executive committee led by Isha Johansen during an extraordinary congress. A nine-man interim body has been set up to run the affairs of the association with immediate effect until elections are held in June 2015. FIFA is yet to react to this latest development, but had previously warned it would frown at any decision taken in the extraordinary congress, questioning the validity and authenticity of the stakeholders who convened it. During the congress, members also decided to lift suspensions of all players and officials who were allegedly accused of match-fixing five months ago. "The purported suspension on allegations of match fixing of players, officials and other persons by the Isha Johansen-led executive in breach of the rules of natural justice is hereby rescinded. This is without prejudice to any other investigation to be conducted subsequently with regards to the same," the statement further reads.

Source: "Sierra Leone football rocked by internal power wrangles", 21 December 2014, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/30568480

Turkey

Galatasaray’s chairman is alone in his claim that a major match-fixing probe was launched after Fenerbahce refused to pay $50 million to Fethullah Gulen. The biggest match-fixing investigation in Turkish football history is back on the agenda after Galatasaray Chairman Duygun Yarsuvat claimed that a 2011 probe into the matter was launched when Fenerbahce Chairman Aziz Yildirim refused to pay $50 million to the Fethullah Gulen movement. Although the claims were rejected by both Yildirim and the Gulen community, they were enough to rock Turkish football and Galatasaray itself. Galatasaray Vice Chairman Hamdi Yasaman told daily Hurriyet that Yarsuvat had made “personal remarks that do not bind the club in anyway.

Source: "Claims of Gulen extortion toward Fener stirs debate", 18 December 2014, Hurriyet Daily, https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/claims-of-gulen-extortion-toward-fener-stirs-debate.aspx?pageID=238&nID=75811&NewsCatID=362

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Bangladesh

The Asian Football Confederation today extended the one-year ban on Bangladeshi official Mohidur Rahman Mirax for match-fixing continent-wide as corruption in the region showed no signs of slowing. Mohidur, joint secretary at Wari Club, was banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity by the Bangladesh Football Federation in August after the body deemed the May fixture against Farahganj Sporting Club was rigged. Farahganj were deducted nine league points and Wari six, while a number of players were handed bans of three and two matches. Mohidur was also fined approximately US$400. He will be free to return to football on August 25.

Source: "AFC extend continent-wide ban on Bangladeshi official for match-fixing", 19 December 2014, Reuters, https://www.themalaymailonline.com/sports/article/afc-extend-continent-wide-ban-on-bangladeshi-official-for-match-fixing#sthash.p8YWkhTx.dpuf

Hong Kong

A Croatian soccer player who was convicted of fixing a local division one match was jailed for 12 months in Eastern Court. Sasa Mus, 28, a former Happy Valley player, was found guilty of teaming up with his side's sponsor, Michael Liao Siwei, and deputy manager Hinson Leung to fix the game with Royal Southern on November 30 last year. Magistrate Lee Siu-ho said there was no evidence to show that Mus had gained financially. But he found Mus' act had harmed the club in terms of reputation, loss of sponsorship and ticket sales. Mus was arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption with eight others over match-fixing in January. In October, Leung pleaded guilty in Eastern court to one charge of betting illegally on another game played by his team. He was fined HK$4,000.

Source: Julie Chu, "Croatian soccer player Sasa Mus jailed for match-fixing", 16 December 2014, South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1662969/croatian-soccer-player-sasa-mus-jailed-match-fixing

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