Integrity in sports update: 5 Nepali footballers charged with treason over alleged fixing of 2011 World Cup qualifiers

Weekly media recap 8-15 November 2015

This week’s media recap highlights a high number of good practice articles from around the globe. INTERPOL is to coordinate a global investigation led by France into an alleged international corruption scam involving sports officials,  as well as athletes suspected of a doping cover-up. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has signed an agreement with Sportradar, which will see both organisations exchanging information concerning sports betting and the integrity of sports competitions. INTERPOL and the IOC also held a Train-the-Trainer Workshop together with the Canadian Olympic Committee, which broadened knowledge and understanding of competition manipulation, how to recognize it, how to prevent and resist it, and how to deal with it if it should occur. The United States Major League Baseball has also announced a partnership with Sport Integrity Monitor for real-time monitoring of betting lines so as to protect the game.

In Nepal, five footballers have appeared in court charged with treason over alleged match-fixing in the World Cup qualifiers in 2011. The footballers are out on bail but the team’s physiotherapist who is also implicated is still on the run from police.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Nepal

Five Nepali footballers have appeared in court charged with treason over alleged match-fixing in World Cup qualifiers in 2011. The footballers - including former captain Sagar Thapa and goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa - were arrested last month after police said they found large sums of money from suspected match-fixers in their bank accounts. A lawyer for one of the players says they deny all charges. Prosecutors are seeking life sentences. "We hope the truth will come out," Thapa told reporters outside the Special Court in Kathmandu. Five of the players are in police custody while another - a physiotherapist for the team - is regarded as a fugitive. The hearing will continue on Tuesday, when the judge will decide whether to keep the accused in custody or release them on bail. The players were charged under a 1989 act against "unlawfully jeopardising Nepal's sovereignty, integrity or national unity", said Bhadrakali Pokharel, registrar at the Special Court in Kathmandu. Speaking to AFP, he added: "The government has charged the five footballers arrested last month with treason and has sought a life sentence as punishment."

The footballers were alleged to have deliberately lost several games in 2011 as part of Nepal's unsuccessful bid for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Football's world governing body Fifa has been embroiled in a series of alleged corruption scandals in recent months.

Source: "Nepal footballers in treason hearing over match-fixing", 9 November 2015, BBC News, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34763303

 

GOOD PRACTICE

Canada

Michael Chambers, Immediate Past President of the Canadian Olympic Committee and Chair of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Juridical Commission, who opened the workshop, said following it: "The cross-sections of coaches and other representatives of Olympic sport in Canada who attended the first IOC-INTERPOL Train the Trainer Workshop left with a greatly broadened knowledge and understanding of competition manipulation, how to recognise it, how to prevent and resist it, and how to deal with it if it should occur. It is heartening to see that concrete steps are being taken to implement the IOC’s initiatives in relation to integrity in sport and its Agenda 2020 commitment to protect clean athletes.” The manipulation of sports competitions, in particular when linked to betting activities, has become an area of great concern in recent years. Like doping, such corruption threatens the very integrity of sport. Olympic Agenda 2020, the new strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, has reiterated the IOC’s commitment and drive to protect clean athletes and the integrity of sports. A number of measures have thus been initiated and implemented, including robust educational awareness programmes to prevent Olympic events from any kind of manipulation. A new reporting mechanism for potential cases of competition manipulation as well as other violations – the Integrity and Compliance Hotline – was also successfully launched earlier this year. The approach of the Train the Trainers Workshop series is very pragmatic. In Winnipeg, the IOC and INTERPOL presented strategies and tools that are available to prevent, educate and investigate allegations or suspicions of competition manipulation.

Source: "Canada welcomes IOC-INTERPOL workshop on integrity in sport ", 13 November 2015, Olympic.org, https://www.olympic.org/news/canada-welcomes-ioc-interpol-workshop-on-integrity-in-sport/247455

IOC

A few days before the IF Forum is hosted in Lausanne with its focus on governance in sport and the manipulation of competitions, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Sportradar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Friday, which will see both organisations exchange information that they are privy to concerning sports betting and the integrity of sports competitions. All sports competitions covered by the IOC’s Integrity Betting Intelligence System (“IBIS”), including the competitions of the Olympic Games and a range of International Federation competitions, are the subject of the MoU in a move that reinforces the drive for greater cooperation found in the text of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions. Both organisations will share information on all those competitions as well as explore opportunities for joint activities and mutual contributions that will improve their respective know-how and spread their expertise further afield. As part of the cooperation, Sportradar will be providing a panel speaker at the IF Forum on 12 November. Speaking at the signing of the MoU, the IOC Ethics and Compliance Chief Officer Pâquerette Girard-Zappelli underlined: “In 2013, we launched our Intelligence Betting Integrity System (IBIS) to collate alerts and information on manipulation through betting on sport, and since then we have looked to identify organisations that can give us an insight into betting and match-fixing activities globally. Having Sportradar as a partner within IBIS is a big step for the safeguarding of both the Olympic Games and the key competitions of IFs."

Source: "IOC and Sportradar join forces with integrity-focused MoU ", 9 November 2015, Olympic.org, https://www.olympic.org/news/ioc-and-sportradar-combine-forces-with-integrity-focused-mou

Switzerland

Starting with the first match between Harlequins and Montpellier, all 67 matches of the Champions Cup and all 67 matches of the Challenge Cup of this season, plus all the matches of both tournaments for the following two seasons will be monitored for suspicious odds movements across the broadest range of betting operators available in the market.

In addition to the Fraud Detection System (FDS), Sportradar will also deliver two rugby-focused Fraud Prevention Workshops that will be attended by EPCR stakeholders as well as match officials.

Sportradar Managing Director Security Services Andreas Krannich added: “Rugby is a sport in which we have seen encouraging levels of proactivity and this agreement with the EPCR is a leading example of that commitment to integrity.

Source: AP, "European Professional Club Rugby Tournaments To Be Monitored By Sportradar", 13 November 2015, Sporttechie, https://www.sporttechie.com/2015/11/13/european-professional-club-rugby-tournaments-monitored-sportradar/

United States

Major League Baseball has announced a partnership with Sport Integrity Monitor (SportIM), a London-based sports data and tech firm, for real-time monitoring of betting lines. The partnership was made to ensure that the “integrity of MLB events remain beyond reproach in a fast-changing online global landscape,” per a release.

Fantasy sports have been under close watch lately. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department and FBI are probing whether daily fantasy sports businesses violate federal law, and daily fantasy sites DraftKings and FanDuel were banned in Nevada.

Baseball gambling is already regulated by legal sports books in Nevada. But this partnership with SportIM offers additional security: the software monitors millions of live and pre-match odds across multiple sports in regulated and unregulated wagering markets.

Source: Felicia Greiff, "MLB Partners With Real-Time Monitoring Firm", 13 November 2015, Real Time Daily, https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/262511/mlb-partners-with-real-time-monitoring-firm.html

 

ODDS AND ENDS

INTERPOL

INTERPOL is to coordinate a global investigation led by France into an alleged international corruption scam involving sports officials as well as athletes suspected of a doping cover-up. The announcement follows today’s publication of a report by an Independent Commission established by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigating a number of individuals, including former officials of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The Independent Commission’s findings follow its investigation into doping allegations aired on German television in December 2014. During its investigation the Independent Commission requested assistance from INTERPOL’s anti-doping unit to contact national law enforcement agencies in countries where potential infractions had been identified in order to share intelligence. In this respect, INTERPOL facilitated the Independent Commission’s contact with French authorities who agreed to undertake an international inquiry into allegations including active and passive corruption, money laundering and criminal conspiracy. They appointed the country’s national anti-corruption department of the central directorate of judicial police (Office central de lutte contre la corruption et les infractions financières et fiscales, OCLCIFF, Direction centrale de la police judiciaire, DCPJ) to launch the inquiry, headed by French investigative magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke. As part of the inquiry, French police last week raided premises belonging to individuals and companies. In the framework of Operation Augeas launched by INTERPOL, the world police body is now working with member countries potentially linked to the inquiry, including Singapore, to seek assistance in coordinating a global investigative network and support the criminal investigation on the basis of the intelligence gathered by the Independent Commission. Depending on the progression and outcome of the investigation, and in collaboration with the relevant authorities, the Independent Commission expects to publish the full and final version of its report by the end of 2015. In 2009 INTERPOL and WADA signed a cooperation agreement to provide a clear framework for co-operation between the two international bodies in tackling doping. The call for INTERPOL’s involvement by the Independent Commission is part of joint efforts by both agencies to develop best practice and inter-agency cooperation at all levels, particularly in the areas of evidence gathering, information sharing and trafficking in doping.

Source: "INTERPOL supporting French investigation into athletics corruption", 9 November 2015, INTERPOL, https://www.interpol.int/

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Cambodia

Phnom Penh Crown have suspended seven players and four match officials for alleged match fixing the club announced on Sunday. Five-time champions Crown handed indefinite suspensions to a number of players and officials. Players Yok As Ari, Thong Da, Sary Matnorotin, Toch Sok Heng, Ngoy Srin, Sos Suhana and San Usaphea were disciplined, with club officers Ngoun Chansothea, Ser Syna, Tes Sophat and youth coach Bouy Dary also receiving disciplinary measures for alleged match-fixing. Rithy Samnang, president of Phnom Penh Crown FC said he was “extremely saddened to announce a severe punishment of an indefinite suspension from all club activities for seven players and four officials of Phnom Penh Crown FC." “These suspensions are for gross misconduct and a serious breach of their employment contracts by way of match manipulation and the deliberate harming of Phnom Penh Crown FC’s reputation.” “This included persuading said first-team players to under-perform in key matches over the past two months, plans to hurt key foreign players in training, as well as using proxies and fake accounts to post negative and inflammatory comments and images on Facebook,” he added. This is the third time the club has issued official announcements to suspend its players in recent years. The two previous suspensions were issued over alleged player misconduct. “Honesty and integrity are the cornerstones of professional football and we will not tolerate any activities relating to the manipulation of football matches and the influencing of match results,” Samnang continued. “Corruption and match manipulation are a poison in sport. We want football to be played in an atmosphere where supporters can trust the integrity of the players and the sincerity of the results,” he said. The Cambodian national side, meanwhile, on Sunday travelled to Iran for their Asian zone qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup against Afghanistan on November 12.

Source: "Crown suspend players over ‘match-fixing’", 10 November 2015, The Phnom Penh Post, https://www.phnompenhpost.com/sport/crown-suspend-players-over-match-fixing

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