Integrity In Sport Update: The Dutch football association (KNVB) makes formal police complaints about potential match-fixing

Weekly Media Recap 12-18 January 2015

The Dutch Football Association filed a complaint with the police regarding suspected match-fixing involving premier division clubs. Match-fixers from Singapore allegedly paid Willem II players to throw matches in the 2009/10 season.

Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic 25 Football Association officials, referees and club administrators are suspected in a 2013 bribery case in the lower-tier leagues. 5 people are suspected of paying bribes while 20 others are suspected of accepting money to fix matches.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Cyprus

Cyprus Football Association chairman Kostakis Koutsokoumnis will be called in for questioning in connection with alleged match-fixing accusations, according to a report from the Cyprus News Agency (CNA). CFA deputy head Yiorgos Koumas, who was brought in for questioning on Tuesday. Koumas was named by referee Marios Panayi as the man behind extensive match-fixing in Cyprus football, especially when it came to relegation matches. Panayi’s allegations prompted a police investigation that has thus far culminated in the arrest of former CFA official Michalis Spyrou and the chairman of the referees’ association Michalis Argyrou and remains ongoing. Both Spyrou and Argyrou were remanded for three days in custody and have since been charged in writing and released to be called back on a later date.

Source: Constantinos Psillides, "CFA chief will be brought in for questioning", 14 January 2015, Cyprus mail, https://cyprus-mail.com/2015/01/14/cfa-chief-will-be-brought-in-for-questioning/

Czech Republic

Czech Football Association officials, referees, and club administrators, 25 people in all, are police suspects in a 2013 bribery case that hit Czech lower-tier leagues. In a statement on Wednesday noting their investigation was complete, police say five people are suspected of paying bribes, and 20 others allegedly accepted bribes to fix matches. Investigators say they believe the bribes of unspecified sums were paid in cash to fix at least 10 matches from May to November 2013. The suspects and the clubs involved have not been identified. If tried and convicted of bribery, the officials face up to two years in jail, while those suspected of accepting bribes could spend up to four years behind bars.

Source: "25 officials are suspects in Czech match-fixing case", 14 January 2015, AP, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11386508

Netherlands

The Dutch football association KNVB has made formal police complaints about potential match fixing involving premier division clubs. According to the Volkskrant, match fixers from Singapore reportedly paid EUR100,000 to players at Eredivisie side Willem II who were prepared to throw a match in the 2009/10 season. The allegations focus on two matches: Ajax-Willem II (4-0) in October 2009 and Feyenoord-Willem II (1-0) in December 2009. The first match – in which the gamblers betted on a goal difference of at least three – allegedly netted the syndicate at least EUR1m. The second game did not go according to plan and the bought players failed to engineer the two-goal difference. The Tilburg club said in a reaction it is shocked by the claims.

Willem II midfielder and Sierra Leone international, Ibrahim Kargbo reportedly came into contact with the match fixers via the Sierra Leone national side and persuaded other players to fix matches. He admitted being approached but denied taking money to lose a match. He was suspended as an international last summer because of match fixing allegations.

Source: "Dutch football association acts on match-fixing claims", 18 January 2015, Dutch news, https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/01/dutch-football-association-acts-on-match-fixing-claims.php/

Spain

The Valencia court accepted the claim filed by Spanish prosecutors in the Levante-Zaragoza match-fixing case. All the accused denied that the match was manipulated.

Source: Ladislao J. Moñino, "Admitida a trámite la querella por el supuesto amaño del Levante-Zaragoza", 14 January 2015, El Pais, https://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2015/01/14/actualidad/1421234903_174983.html

 

GOOD PRACTICE

AFC

Extensive measures have been implemented to combat the threat of match-fixing during the AFC Asian Cup 2015 that kicked off in Australia. Collaboration between the AFC and key stakeholders including the Australian Government and law enforcement, Football Federation of Australia, Local Organising Committee and betting monitoring service provider Sportradar has been pivotal in proactively integrating an action plan to uphold the integrity of the tournament. According to the AFC General Secretary, Dato’ Alex Soosay, upholding the integrity of its competitions is a key priority for the AFC. The AFC Integrity Action Plan is made up of several core elements; awareness raising and educational training of players, team officials and match officials; detailed and technologically advanced monitoring of global betting markets through Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System; suspicious activity reporting through AFC’s confidential reporting mechanism and utilization of the Crime Stoppers program; and the establishment and testing of collaborative incident response procedures between AFC and Australian law enforcement with unprecedented levels of cooperation and mutual support.

Source: "AFC Integrity Unit Collaborates with Stakeholders for Asian Cup", 15 January 2015, World Football Insider, https://www.worldfootballinsider.com/Story.aspx?id=37467

France

A clean-up operation is taking place in French football recently affected by match-fixing scandals. After Montpellier and Arles-Avignon (Ligue 2 clubs), Toulouse has signed up to the “Sports Betting” charter. The Professional Football League (LPF) together with the Players’ Association (UNFP) and the gambling operator (FDJ) created a program to raise awareness among players around the risks associated with sports betting. Training sessions were conducted at the training grounds. The players committed to 5 rules, including not betting on football (directly or through intermediaries), never taking part in match-fixing and not accepting gifts from suspicious persons. The same training session was conducted with AS Nancy-Lorraine (Ligue 2 club) and Paris Saint-Germain. The next club targeted is FC Nantes.

Source: "Ligue 1: Le TFC signe la charte «Paris Sportifs» contre la corruption", 13 January 2015, 20 Minutes, https://www.20minutes.fr/toulouse/1516451-20150113-ligue-1-tfc-signe-charte-paris-sportifs-contre-corruption

 

MODUS OPERANDI

France

Le Monde published the content of phone tapings in the match-fixing case in the French Ligue 2. 6 people have been indicted so far, including Jean-Marc Conrad and Serge Kasparian. The conversations give an insight into the process of fixing matches, the uncertainty of obtaining the desired result as well as the methods used. The fixes involved payments as well as the transfer of players. In the published materials, Kasparian and his son discuss 3 different matches – against Dijon, Bastia and Creteil.

Source: "Matches truqués de L2 : les écoutes de Nîmes révélées", 17 January 2015, Metro news https://www.metronews.fr/sport/matches-truques-de-l2-les-ecoutes-de-nimes-revelees/moaq!vE1LNIRxj8ovc/

 

ODDS AND ENDS

Ecuador

The 3 former Olmedo players suspected of involvement in a match-fixing case were heard by the disciplinary commission of the Ecuadorian Football Federation (FEF). Marco Mosquera, Mariano Mina and Robinson Sánchez arrived accompanied by Iván Hurtado, the president of the Ecuadorian players’ association. The other player named in the case is Carlos Santucho but he is currently in his country – Uruguay. According to the Mexican website Deportes 7-24, the four players received money from former Deportivo Quito representative, Wladimir Ortíz. The players responded to questions and gave their version of the story. The commission will now decide if the case should be taken further.

Source: Ronald Ladines, "Futbolistas imputados por supuesto amaño comparecieron en la FEF", 13 January 2015, El Comercio, https://www.elcomercio.com/deportes/amano-olmedo-robinsonsanchez-marcomosquera-marianomina.html

Netherlands

Match-fixing may be involved in two friendly football games featuring Dutch Eredivisie teams in Spain last week, according to the Volkskrant. The matches involved were between ADO Den Haag and Albanian champion Skenderbeu Korce in Estepona and Heerenveen against Standard Luik in Murcia. ADO won the Kenderbeu Korce match 2-0, thanks to goals in the final 15 minutes. A former Uefa gambling expert told the paper: ‘These games showed normal patterns until half time. Then you suddenly saw lots of betting on Dutch goals. This is definitely a suspicious match.’

The match between Heerenveen and Standard Luik was abandoned on Friday when the Dutch players left the pitch. They were angry about the referee’s decision to allow the fourth penalty of the game to be retaken.

Source: "Match-fixing claims about Dutch club friendlies in Spain", 12 January 2015, Dutch news, https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/01/match-fixing-claims-about-dutch-club-friendlies-in-spain.php/

Paraguay

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Friday that 80 Taiwanese nationals have been detained in Paraguay since earlier this week for alleged involvement in illegal gambling. According to an AFP report, 57 men and 23 women were detained by Paraguayan police, who suspect they were being exploited as workers for an illegal online gambling operation. The report cited a prosecutor responsible for the investigation, who said the operation involved human trafficking and drugs. Alfredo Acosta said the Taiwanese nationals, who reportedly do not speak any English, Spanish, or Portuguese, lived in cramped conditions and were exhausted and disoriented when found. "We are assuming that they were working in online Chinese betting" Acosta was quoted in the report. From late Wednesday to Thursday, police raided two houses in Ciudad del Este, where they found the Taiwanese workers on computers and other Internet devices, according to AFP. Their identification documents showed that the workers had stopped in other countries before coming to Paraguay, and most of them arrived as tourists between Nov. 14 and 29, AFP reported.

Source: Elaine Hou, "Taiwan confirms nationals detained in Paraguay over illegal gambling", 16 January 2015, Central News Agency, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=2671267

Turkey

Fenerbahce President Aziz Yildirim and five other defendants appeared before an Istanbul court for their retrial in a match-fixing case. Yildirim and others have sought acquittal, claiming they were victims of a plot and convicted on false evidence. The Fenerbahce president had implied earlier that he was targeted by the "parallel structure," or state within a state linked to the Gulen Movement. The defendants were released after their appeal for a retrial was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals. Aziz Yildirim was found guilty of involvement in match-fixing in several matches, and of running a criminal gang during a 2011 investigation. The defendants sought a retrial claiming that audio tapes of defendants' phone conversations, presented by prosecutors as evidence implicating them in the case, should be dismissed on the grounds of a new legal amendment against wiretapping.

Source: Yusuf Ziya Durmus, "Fener boss back in dock for match-fixing retrial", 13 January 2015, Daily Sabah, https://www.dailysabah.com/investigations/2015/01/13/fener-boss-back-in-dock-for-matchfixing-retrial

United Kingdom

The case against 13 footballers investigated over alleged spot-fixing has been dropped due to "insufficient evidence", the CPS has said. Prosecutors said they had looked at the "reliability of the evidence" in light of the collapse of the trial of former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos. That led to a number of cases linked to journalist Mazher Mahmood, known as the "Fake Sheikh", being reviewed. The CPS said no further action would be taken against the players. In April last year, seven players from Football League clubs based in the north-west of England were arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing, and another six were re-arrested over the claims. The CPS said it did not believe there was enough evidence to "provide a realistic prospect of conviction".

Source: "Football 'spot-fixing' case dropped", 15 January 2015, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30815575

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Singapore

The High Court increased match-fixer Eric Ding Si Yang’s jail term from three years to five years and laid down stiffer sentencing benchmarks for such criminals. Given the increasing prevalence of match-fixing, a “sharp upward recalibration is timely and merited”, said Justice Chan Seng Onn. The judge ruled that three-and-a-half years behind bars per charge is the starting point for seasoned fixers of matches at the FIFA World Cup level who were caught for the first time, are part of organised syndicates and have claimed trial. Similar offenders at the S-League level face 1.5 years in jail per charge. Until now, match-fixers typically faced up to 18 months’ jail per charge. “The sentencing norms must be re-assessed in light of the increased lucrativeness and anonymity of match-fixing offences as well as the increased potential for reputational harm to Singapore,” he added.

Ding was convicted of three counts of corruptly giving gratification to three Lebanese match officials and sentenced last July. His sentence per charge was increased from 18 months to 30 months, with two sentences running consecutively.

Source: Neo Chai Chin, "Court sets tougher penalties for match-fixing", 17 January 2015, Today Online, https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/court-sets-tougher-penalties-match-fixing

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