INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Bi-Weekly Bulletin - 6-19 February 2017

published on 20 February 2017

In this edition, a wealth of match-fixing cases came from crickets in South Africa to Pakistan and to Sri Lanka. There are also some cases of match-fixing related to betting, which shows the importance of monitoring betting for suspicious or unusual betting. Football continues to be marred with allegations of match-fixing. One such investigation ended with a ban of 15-22 players from the Asian Football Confederation for matches fixed in the Laos national teams.

Meanwhile, we follow the case of the Australian teenager who was provisionally suspended until the investigation is over on suspicions of match-fixing.

Finally, we look at the case from Switzerland, where a man was acquitted a second time for match-fixing as a result of the lack of legislation in sporting fraud.

The Integrity in Sports Programme is still involved in many events around the world in the upcoming month to raise awareness on the severity of match-fixing, among other crimes in sports.

 

INVESTIGATIONS

Latvia

Babite's next Winter Cup match against the Lithuanian club Utenis has been postponed. In the controversial Winter Cup match last Thursday, Babite lost 1:3 (0:2), conceding the first goal after a series of strange defensive mistakes and the second goal off a penalty kick. Right after the start of the match, rumors began to swirl on social networks about unusual changes in odds, which is the first indicator that the match may have been fixed. A video from the match shows that, when Suduva is attacking to score the first goal, one of Babite players is busy tying his shoelaces, while Babite goalkeeper and one of the defenders make errors that are very hard to explain. Close to the end of the first half, one of Babite players committed a foul and the referee awarded a penalty kick to Suduva, which was successfully converted. "The matter is being investigated by the Football Federation, and we decided to postpone the next Babite match pending the investigation," Schlegl told LETA. He declined to say what information had been received, except that it had come from a foreign company supervising bookmaker operators.... 

Source: "Football Federation looking into match-fixing claims following Winter Cup game between Babite and Suduva", 14 February 2017, Baltic Course, https://www.baltic-course.com/eng/legislation/?doc=127614 

Pakistan

The match-fixing scandal that has rocked the Pakistan Super league (PSL) grew in proportion on Saturday with three more players, including Test pacer Mohammad Irfan, being questioned by the Cricket Board’s Anti-Corruption Unit. Irfan, who has played four Tests for Pakistan, was questioned along with Zulfiqar Babar and Shahzaib Hasan but all the three have been cleared to carry on playing in the PSL for the time being. A top official of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that it would take another 10 to 15 days to complete the investigations against suspended Pakistani players, Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif who were sent home from the Pakistan Super League on charges of meeting with people linked to a betting syndicate. “As far as Sharjeel and Khalid are concerned enquiries will continue against them and this will take another week or two,” Najam Sethi, who heads the PSL, said. Sources said Sharjeel and Khalid, who were both in the Islamabad United franchise in the PSL, are accused of holding meetings with people in Dubai including a foreigner who is linked to a betting syndicate. “The two are said to have discussed spot-fixing offers with these two people in the parking area of the team hotel,” the source said. “The charges against Sharjeel are serious because he apparently accepted a deal while Khalid was also into it,” he added....

Source: "Mohammad Irfan, three others questioned in match fixing scandal in Pakistan Super League", 11 February 2017, Indian Express https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/mohammad-irfan-questioned-match-fixing-scandal-pakistan-super-league-psl-4519378/ 

South Africa

South African cricketers, who were caught attempting to fix matches during the 2015-16 domestic Twenty20 tournament Ram Slam, are currently under scrutiny of the country’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and are facing the prospect of fines and possible jail time, a Cricbuzz report stated. According to the report, the case is in the hands of a state prosecutor now. The report also claimed that Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who was also involved in the scandal, has failed to pay his legal bills and has regularly ignored the allegations levelled by Cricket South Africa‘s (CSA) Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) against him. The ACU, it said, has been investigating the events leading up to the 2015-16 Ram Slam Twenty20 tournament since November 2015. During this period, six players have been banned for being involved in corruption. The worst hit of them all was former South Africa player Gulam Bodi, who handed a 20-year ban after admitting to serving as an intermediary between fixers and players. Others who were banned were Thami Tsolekile (12 years), Pumelela Matshikwe (10), Ethy Mbhalati (10), Jean Symes (7) and Alviro Petersen

(2). Petersen, who had initially claimed of being the whistle-blower, was in fact a part of the meetings that took place between fixers and players. Instead, the report claimed, Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Craig Alexander were responsible for alerting CSA about the episode. These two, who had been approached by Bodi during the Africa T20 Cup, had immediately reported about the same to the CSA. Van Jaarsveld, when approached for a comment by Cricbuzz, declined to give a statement as he had been prohibited by the NPA. He instead directed queries to NPA’s media department, who did not respond to a set of questions. The involvement of van Jaarsveld and Alexander is significant because both would serve as credible witnesses. Any charges against the players in South Africa would be based on the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004, which has a section dedicated to offences relating to sporting events and another relating to gambling. Players who plead guilty to the charges against them would likely appear collectively, but those who claim innocence would appear individually. Tsotsobe’s place in the whole affair is still to be established. It is almost a year since he admitted that he was under investigation, and said he was unsure of what the outcome might be. He has not played any cricket all this while. The report also stated that Tsotsobe has been attempting to ignore the allegations. But it also quoted one of its sources as saying: “As I understand it, it shouldn’t go away. It’s (sic) serious allegations and it needs to be followed up on.”

Source: "South African cricketers caught in ‘match-fixing’ net may face fine, jail term", 9 February 2017, Cricket Country https://www.cricketcountry.com/news/south-african-cricketers-caught-in-match-fixing-net-may-face-fine-jail-term-574659  

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Cricket President Thilanga Sumathipala assured that an impartial probe will be conducted to the alleged match fixing incident between Kalutara PCC and Panadura CC in the ongoing domestic cricket tournament. The Tier ‘B’ game between the two teams had been brought forward and some bizarre events saw Panadura CC winning the First Class game in T-20 style after being set a target of 164 runs in 15 overs with eight deliveries to spare. The incident was reported by Sri Lanka Ports Authority Cricket Club, the table leaders of Tier ‘B’. Among the allegations that were charged was that as many as 13 overs were bowled in a matter of 20 minutes. There are concerns that investigations will be hushed up as some powerful members of both clubs are key members of the SLC Executive Committee. "I know that the committee that is looking into this incident met yesterday. We have to wait till the investigations are finalized," Sumathipala told journalists. When pressed further by The Island as to how big an embarrassment was the incident as Panadura CC heavyweight Ravin Wickramaratne is the Assistant Secretary of SLC, Sumathipala hit back.

Source: Rex Clementine, "Match fixing incident could open can of worms", 9 February 2017, The Island, https://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=160031 

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Australia

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has provisionally suspended an Australian teenager Oliver Anderson from playing professional tennis over charges of alleged match-fixing. The suspension of Anderson, 18, applies with immediate effect and will remain in place until the TIU investigation is complete. During this period Anderson, currently ranked 1083, is excluded from competing in, or attending, any tournament or event organised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of the sport. The provisional suspension was imposed by independent anti-corruption hearing officer Richard McLaren, the man behind the devastating report into “state-sponsored doping” that saw Russia barred from international athletics. However, the TIU stressed the suspension was not a determination of the player’s guilt or innocence of corruption offences under the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program. The TIU also did not specify the nature of the allegations it was investigating. It is reported that the Victoria Police announced on January 5 that an 18-year-old man had been charged over alleged match-fixing at a second-tier event in Traralgon, Australia, in October, according to Sport24. The statement release by the police at the time said he would appear in court on March 2. Anderson won his opening match at the Traralgon tournament, before losing to compatriot John-Patrick Smith, winning $860 in prize money.

Source: "Australian teen suspended from professional tennis after match-fixing allegation", 11 February 2017, Hindustan Times, 
https://www.hindustantimes.com/tennis/australian-teen-suspended-from-professional-tennis-after-match-fixing-allegation/story-A357GtudFHLme0YZP29XrI.html

Malaysia

The Asian Football Confederation has banned 15 current or former players for life for match-fixing. They are among 22 people from Laos and Cambodia issued with life bans by the AFC disciplinary committee for manipulating matches involving Laos national teams and club side Lao Toyota. The banned players represented Laos or Lao Toyota. The AFC says its match-fixing investigation is ongoing so "specific details including the relevant matches will not be disclosed." The regional governing body wants FIFA to extend the bans globally.

Source: "Asian confederation imposes life bans for Laos match-fixing", 15 February 2017, Waterloo Chronicles, 
https://www.waterloochronicle.ca/sports-story/7141174-asian-confederation-imposes-life-bans-for-laos-match-fixing/

Malta

A court has described match fixing as “a cancer at the heart of football,” as a team manager of local Premier Football club Pembroke FC was remanded in custody on charges of match fixing earlier this afternoon. Uchenna Anyanwu, 30, a naturalised Maltese citizen living in Birkirkara was accused of conspiracy to commit an offence under the prevention of corruption in Sports Act, offering a player of the Mosta Football Club or an official or organiser a bribe and complicity in the offence. The charges come less than 24 hours after Pembroke trounced Mosta FC 5-0 in a Premier league match. Police Inspectors Elton Taliana and Robert Vella, prosecuting, requested the court impose an asset freeze on the accused, in terms of money laundering legislation. Inspector Vella told presiding Magistrate Joseph Mifsud that the accused “could be a member of a criminal organisation,” as police investigations had uncovered that the accused's sister works in a Nigerian bank. There was a risk that the proceeds of any crime could be transferred to the African country, he said. Anyanwu's defence counsel, lawyers David Camilleri and Joseph Gatt, argued that the man had not been charged with money laundering, but complicity in match-fixing. The source of his income is not in question, argued the defence...

Source: Matthew Agius, "Pembroke FC manager charged with bribery", 13 February 2017, Malta Today,
https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/court_and_police/74398/pembroke_fc_manager_charged_with_bribery#.WKQItJcqgZ3  

Norway

The case, which investigated two third division teams from Norway, involved two former football players and one punter. It dates back to two matches in June, 2012. In the first game, Follo FK lost 4-3 to Østsiden having led 3-0 with just 25 minutes to go. In the second game, Asker lost 7-1 to Frigg Oslo despite being favourites to win. Following a complaint from the Norwegian Football Association, police investigated a series of major bets placed on the two matches. An Oslo appeals court sentenced Albania-born Drin Shala, the former Follo goalkeeper, and Alban Shipshani, a Swedish former striker for Asker, to 14 months in prison for aggravated corruption and fraud. The sentence is heavier than an initial eight-month sanction handed down by a lower court in April 2015. Swedish punter Luptjo Korunovski was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for the same offences: a year more than the lower court's initial verdict. The judges also ordered the confiscation of Korunovski's winnings totaling 340,000 Norwegian kroner ($40,000). The Oslo appeals court acquitted four other people, including a former Follo player convicted in 2015.

Source: "Swedish striker among three jailed for match-fixing in Norway", 15 February 2017, The Local, 
https://www.thelocal.se/20170215/swedish-striker-among-three-jailed-for-match-fixing-in-norway 

Spain

A total of 18 people, including three football players, are to stand trial for match-fixing, a judge in Pamplona ruled on Thursday. Former Real Betis trio Xavier Torres, Antonio Amaya Carazo and Jordi Figueras are accused of accepting payments to rig results at the end of the 2013-14 La Liga season in an effort to ensure Osasuna avoided relegation. A court statement said there was evidence that former Osasuna executives paid the players, then at Betis, 400,000 euros ($427,000) to beat Osasuna’s rivals Real Valladolid and 250,000 to lose to Osasuna in their final two matches of the campaign. Both results happened — Betis beat Valladolid 4-3 and then lost 2-1 at Osasuna — but Pamplona-based Osasuna, Valladolid and Seville-based Betis — who have all denied involvement in match-fixing — were all still relegated. Following a two-year investigation, the judge recommended that 18 of 29 people under suspicion, including six former Osasuna executives, stand trial on charges of misappropriation, corporate crime, document and account forgery and sporting fraud. Court papers said the Osasuna executives “decided to use the money of Club Atletico Osasuna to keep the club at all costs in the First Division by paying certain amounts of money in cash to players of other teams with the aim of altering the result of the competition.” Midfielder Torres, now with Sporting Gijon, Carazo, who joined Rayo Vallecano in 2016, and Figueras, who now plays at Karlsruher SC in Bundesliga 2, were all with Betis at the time. Among the 11 cleared are former Espanyol Captain Sergio Garcia, ex-Osasuna skipper Francisco Punal and current Osasuna coach Petar Vasiljevic. Several Espanyol players were investigated after their 1-1 draw with Osasuna on the penultimate matchday but the judge said there was no evidence that the game had been fixed. The court statement added: “The information has been passed on to the prosecutor and to the plaintiffs, Osasuna and the Spanish Football League (LFP), so that within 20 days they present their written arguments against the 18 investigated, for which the process continues.”

Source: "Three players among 18 people on La Liga match-fixing charges", 17 February 2017, The Indian Express https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/three-players-among-18-people-on-la-liga-match-fixing-charges-4529945/

Switzerland

The Swiss Attorney General’s Office had demanded that the 30-year-old defendant – a Bosnian man residing in canton Bern - receive a suspended sentence and be fined. But on Tuesday the Ticino-based court sided with the defence, which pleaded for his complete acquittal. The defendant was charged with helping two accomplices in Germany between 2008 and 2009, who were running a football match-fixing scam using online betting sites based in Asia. According to the Attorney General's Office, the defendant’s role was to establish contact with “susceptible” football players and to encourage them to participate in the scam, after which he was to pay them. According to the prosecution, these scams would have earned in less than six months nearly CHF458,000 ($455,000), of which CHF15,000 would have been pocketed by the defendant. But to prove professional fraud, the prosecution had to establish that individuals were actually harmed by the scam, the court said, whereas the indictment did not state precise damages. In addition to being acquitted, the defendant will receive CHF1,000 ($993) in compensation, plus CHF11,600 for time spent in detention, and other damages amounting to CHF2,000...

Source: "Acquittal for suspected match-fixing accomplice", 14 February 2017, Swiss INFO, https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/football-_acquittal-for-match-fixing-scandal-accomplice/42960992 

 

BETTING

Portugal

Portugal's state betting firm suspended wagers on a first-division match between Rio Ave and Feirense after an unusually large amount of money was placed on the game, sparking suspicions of match-fixing. It is the first time that betting on a first-division match in Portugal has been suspended and Jogos Santa Casa's two rivals, BetClic and Bet.pt, also followed suit. "The gaming department decided to suspend bets due to the atypical volume waged," Jogos Santa Casa said in a statement late on Monday before minnows Feirense's 2-1 home win. Jogos Santa Casa did not provide further details but sports daily O Jogo said suspicions of possible match-fixing were raised after a Chinese national bet 100,000 euros ($108,000) that Feirense would win the match. The bet was made in the northern city of Povoa de Varzim, the newspaper added. "What happened today is a black moment for Portuguese football," Rio Ave coach Luis Castro said after the match. The suspension of bets "calls into question players, coaches and institutions", he added. Feirense are 13th in the 18-team Portuguese league, four places behind Rio Ave.

Source: "Portugal suspends bets over match-fixing fears", 7 February 2017, The Times of India,
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/football/top-stories/portugal-suspends-bets-over-match-fixing-fears/articleshow/57025034.cms 

 

GOOD PRACTICES

United Kingdom

Following on from the successful delivery of the 2016 Sport and sports betting integrity action plan (SBI Action Plan), the Sports Betting Integrity Forum has today published its 2017 edition. This new and updated SBI Action Plan builds on that progress, continuing the collaborative approach across sport, betting operators, law enforcement and government to prevent, protect against and deter sports betting-related corruption. It has also been amended to include relevant updates and new priorities. SBI Action Plan: https://www.sbif.uk/GB-Strategy-Action-Plan/GB-Strategy-Action-Plan.aspx 

Source: "Sport and sports betting integrity action plan", 9 February 2017, Gambling Commission UK,
https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/news/2017/Sport-and-sports-betting-integrity-action-plan.aspx 

ODDS AND ENDS

Pakistan

Famous martial arts expert grand master Muhammad Ashraf Tai has confessed he was involved in match-fixing against receiving $500,000 in 1983. In his confessional statement here Wednesday, Ashraf Tai disclosed that his fight against Howard Jackson of Germany was fixed in 1983. He received $500,000 for defeat in the game. However, he went on to say that the fight he was involved in fixing was neither ‘title fight’ nor it was fought under Pakistani flag.

Source: "Martial arts guru Ashraf Tai confesses to match-fixing", 8 February 2017, The News https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/184865-Martial-arts-guru-Ashraf-Tai-confesses-to-match-fixing 

INTEGRITY IN SPORT EVENTS 

Bahamas 

INTERPOL-IOC Integrity in Sports National Workshop

23 Februrary 2017, Nassau, Bahamas 

The INTERPOL Integrity in Sports Unit and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will host a National Workshop addressed to Law Enforcement, Sport Federations, Betting, and relevant ministries.

South Korea

INTERPOL-IOC Partnership Development Meeting

15 March 2017 Seoul, South Korea

High level representatives from various stakeholders will meet to discuss and prepare a strategy to combat match-fixing.

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