Integrity in sport update: INTERPOL-IOC hold first Fact-Finders workshop to hone investigatory skills

Weekly media recap 21-27 September 2015 published on 29 September 2015

A few interesting articles in this week's recap that covers various sports, from pigeon racing, Australian football, cricket and football. Various investigations underway such as in Ghana, were the current Premier League Board best referee and FIFA Referee has requested an investigation by the Ghana Football Association and Premier League Board, as most goals scored by clubs were dubious. The Australian Football League's integrity unit is also investigating allegations that "game sensitive information" was leaked to the other club ahead of an elimination final.

Singapore's anti-corruption legislation was fully applied when a supervisor at a construction company in Singapore was arrested and convicted to four years jail sentence for match-fixing. The four men, a foreign coach and players, that he managed to bribed were also arrested shortly before the game started by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Australia

Brothers Michael and Daniel Talia are understood to be involved in an AFL investigation requested by the Western Bulldogs. The AFL integrity unit is looking into allegations that “game sensitive information” was leaked from the Bulldogs to Adelaide ahead of their elimination final. Adelaide won the match by seven points. The AFL became involved after a request from the Bulldogs. Speculation was rife at Tuesday night’s AFL All-Australian dinner that the investigation involved the Talia brothers. Michael plays for the Bulldogs, but is out of contract, while his older brother Daniel is a Crows defender. In a statement, Bulldogs chief executive David Stevenson said they became aware of the alleged leak three days after the September 12 season-ending loss. The Bulldogs called it “in appropriate transmission of game-sensitive information”. “While we do not believe this matter had a material bearing on the game or the result, we believe it is appropriate to report these matters relating to integrity to the AFL for consideration,” Stevenson added. The Crows also released a statement on Tuesday, denying they had done anything wrong. “We are aware of an internal investigation undertaken by the Western Bulldogs regarding the transmission of some limited game-sensitive information in the lead-up to our recent final,” Crows chief executive Andrew Fagan said. “Our club strongly refutes any suggestion of wrongdoing. “At no stage did our coaches meet to discuss any information received from an external source, nor did it alter our team selection, strategies or game plan.” Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy said on Tuesday night that people had to tread carefully regarding the matter. “Football clubs are family ... it’s such a close knit brethren and feeling among people,” he said. “I’d hate to think that was broken.

Source: Australian Associated Press, "AFL integrity unity to investigate Western Bulldogs' leaking claims", 23 September 2015, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/sep/23/afl-integrity-unity-western-bulldogs-collusion-claims

Ghana

FIFA Referee William Agbovi has called on the Ghana Football Association and the Premier League Board to investigate clubs for match fixing as most goals scored in the league this season were dubious. The three time best referee in Ghana believes that the phenomenon really exists and that the clubs prefer talking to themselves since they knew most referees could not be compromised. According to Ghana’s current Premier League Board best referee, most of the goal scored by strikers as well as those that were squandered in the course of play need to be investigated since they all happened under dubious circumstances. “My brother the phenomenon really exists not only in Ghana but even in Europe but how do you prove it,” Agbovi questioned. “During officiating, there are some goals that are scored sometimes which are from dubious circumstances but they do not flout our rules so you can’t do anything against that. Most of the clubs prefer ‘dealing’ with themselves and not referees,” he added. William Abgovi also expressed shock at the way some strikers squander goal scoring chances which he believes is deliberate. “Sometime you see a striker squandering a clear goal scoring opportunity but what can you do? So I believe the problem exists but we shall need the PLB and the GFA should start investigating most of the clubs,” he concluded. A lot of football followers and administrators have expressed misgivings about the canker describing the number of goals conceded by some clubs and the results of some of the matches as dubious and irrational.

Source: Sheikh Tophic Sienu, "MATCH FIXING: William Agbovi calls on GFA and PLB to investigate clubs ", 22 September 2015, Ghana Soccer Net, https://ghanasoccernet.com/match-fixing-william-agbovi-calls-on-gfa-and-plb-to-investigate-clubs/

 

GOOD PRACTICE

Netherlands

INTERPOL and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have held the first three-day Fact-Finders Training workshop in Arnhem, The Netherlands to develop internal investigation skills concerning competition manipulation allegations. The workshop was designed for individuals tasked with investigating allegations, suspicions or reports of the manipulation of a sports competition. Attending the course were officials from football, tennis, cycling and badminton, as well as the Dutch Court of Arbitration in Sports and the Nederlands Olympisch Comité*Nederlandse Sport Federatie (NOC*NSF), which hosted the training. As part of Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, the IOC has established a special fund of USD 20 million to better protect the clean athletes. The joint IOC-INTERPOL prevention programme for the fight against match fixing and related corruption is being financed out of the USD 10 million portion for this purpose by the IOC. Key areas dealt with in the three-day workshop included how to undertake a fact-finding inquiry, interview skills, case evaluation and reporting and working with other stakeholders within the sporting environment and beyond. The course is one of a series of awareness and capacity-building initiatives as part of a three-year partnership agreement between INTERPOL and the IOC to better tackle competition manipulation in sport with a focus on prevention and training.

Source: "Joint INTERPOL-IOC training sharpens investigation skills for competition manipulation allegations ", 22 September 2015, Olympic News, https://www.olympic.org/news/joint-interpol-ioc-training-sharpens-investigation-skills-for-competition-manipulation-allegations/247213

ILLEGAL BETTING

PETA

Taipei - Taiwanese authorities said on Wednesday they would prosecute 129 people for illegal gambling on pigeon races - part of a broader investigation into the sport after animal rights group PETA filed complaints. More than Tw$66.6 million ($2 million) was seized from the Fengyuan Pigeon Club in the central city of Taichung, according to the district prosecutors office. US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted the results of its investigation last year to Taiwanese authorities, saying pigeon racing kills 1.5 million birds a year on the island. “This particular club we found to have gambling offences but we didn't find there's a situation of animal abuse,” Hung Jia-yuan, director of Taichung's prosecutors office, told AFP, adding investigations would continue elsewhere. The main suspects in the gambling case face a maximum of three years' imprisonment, while others may be fined. In a raid last month on a pigeon-racing club in the southern city of Kaohsiung, 35 people were prosecuted and about Tw$18 million was confiscated. PETA in a statement Wednesday commended Taiwanese authorities for cracking down on the sport which it called cruel. It said a recent series of races by the Kaohsiung club started with 7 301 birds but only had 36 by the fifth race.

Source: "Pigeon owners held for illegal betting ", 23 September 2015, Iol News, https://www.iol.co.za/news/world/pigeon-owners-held-for-illegal-betting-1.1920259

 

ODDS AND ENDS

International Cricket Council

The head of worldwide cricket's anti-fraud body has admitted that corruption will never be totally driven out of the game, in an interview published on Wednesday. Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption chief, however added that fans should be reassured that administrators are doing "everything humanly possible" to stop illegal practices such as match-fixing. "I'll give you the honest answer that we will never totally, utterly and absolutely eradicate corruption from the game," Flanagan told icc-cricket.com. "But we can make the game a very difficult environment for those who would seek to bring corruption to bear." Flanagan, who has been at the ICC since 2010, called those who tried to corrupt the game as "most evil". "These are organised criminals. These are members of organised criminal gangs across the world." Cricket's reputation has been in the spotlight in recent times, most notably with the jailing of three Pakistan internationals for spot-fixing during the 2010 Test Series in England. All three -- Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif -- have now been released and are now resuming their cricket careers. Asked if any should be picked for international duty by Pakistan again, Flanagan said that was a matter for the Pakistan Cricket Board. "They've been punished, they've met their punishment," he said. "It's now a matter, I think, for their home board to decide whether they should ever grace an international cricket team again." He added: "That's not just a question of ability, that's a question of their remorse, their realisation of how wrong their behaviour was." Of the three, the young star bowler Amir, 23, is most likely to represent his country again though he was omitted from the squad recently selected to play England in the upcoming Test Series in the UAE next month. Cricket's integrity remains under constant threat. Last week, Chris Eaton, the executive director of the Qatar-based International Centre for Sport Security, said that after football, cricket is the main sport worldwide for illegal gambling. One estimate by an expert this year calculated that the sports betting market is worth $3-trillion annually, the vast majority of that illegal gambling. Cricket is thought to account for around 12 per cent of that global figure.

Source: "Corruption will always be part of game: ICC's anti-corruption chief", 23 September 2015, The Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/toi-cri/top-stories/Corruption-will-always-be-part-of-game-ICCs-anti-corruption-chief/articleshow/49077801.cms

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Singapore

A supervisor at a construction company with a match-fixing history was on Monday sentenced to four years in jail for bribing a foreign coach and players in Singapore an attempt to rig a preliminary Southeast Asian Games soccer match. Rajendran R Kurusamy, 55, pleaded guilty to meeting Timor Leste's team manager, Orlando Marques Henriques Mendes, in Singapore on May 28 with the help of an Indonesian referee and a former Timor Leste player. Mendes, who was also the technical director of the Football Federation of Timor Leste, was offered 15,000 Singapore dollars ($10,700) by Rajendran to hold a goalless score-line for 20 minutes in a first-round match against Malaysia, before losing by a few goals. Mendes allegedly accepted the bribe. Rajendran also offered to pay at least seven players $4,000 (US$2,844) each. All four men were arrested by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau before the match on the evening of May 30. Malaysia won 1-0. Timor Leste subsequently finished fifth in its group of six teams and failed to qualify for the semi-finals. Deputy public prosecutor Nicholas Khoo dubbed Rajendran as the country's "most prolific match-fixer in terms of number of convictions." In 1997, Rajendran was sentenced to 27 months in jail for attempting to bribe three players of the local S-League. Two years later, he received another 24-month jail sentence for agreeing to give a prison warden 20,000 Singapore dollars ($14,300) in exchange for a smuggled mobile phone. Rajendran used the phone to make football bets and illegal personal calls. "In the present case, the accused's offenses were clearly premeditated," Khoo told the court. "The fact that the accused is a recalcitrant offender who has a string of similar antecedents for match-fixing offences ... evidences that the accused criminal tendencies are not an uncharacteristic aberration, but part of a defined pattern of criminality," he said. In passing the sentence for two corruption charges, district judge Hamidah Ibrahim noted the need for "general deterrence" given that Rajendran was found guilty of similar charges in the past. For the first charge of bribing Mendes, he was given a jail term of 42 months. The second charge of offering bribes to at least seven Timor Leste players attracted a jail term of 48 months - the highest of its kind dealt on a single charge for match-fixing - she said, adding that both charges will run concurrently. Rajendran also had a history of working with notorious Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal.

Source: Annabelle Liang, "Singaporean Jailed 4 Years for Soccer Match-Fixing", 21 September 2015, ABC News, https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/singaporean-jailed-years-soccer-match-fixing-33913998

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