Match-fixing update: FA's tough new betting laws and Sportradar expand Fraud Detection System with CONCACAF
Weekly Media Recap 28 July - 3 August 2014
Published 05 August 2014
The headlines in this week’s recap have been dominated by New Zealand’s introduction of the Crimes (Match-Fixing) Amendment Bill that has passed its first reading in parliament. Considering match-fixing a form of deception under the Crimes Act 1961, the bill makes it a criminal offence carrying a maximum jail sentence of seven years.
The English FA has also appeared in the news for its good practice. Previously the FA only prohibited football participants from betting on a match or competition in which they were involved or could influence. The new rules that now apply prevent football participants, including club employees and match officials from betting on any football-related matters worldwide. The ban also stipulates that no football participant may instruct any third party to place any bet on their behalf.
Former Bulgarian top-flight goalkeeper Daniel Gyaurov has denied being involved in attempts to manipulate matches at last month's Under-19 European Championship. Gyaurov (20) was arrested after a joint operation involving the interior ministry and the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), and the investigation is ongoing. Gyaurov, a former Bulgaria youth, Lokomotiv Sofia and Vidima-Rakovski keeper who retired from soccer earlier this year, met some of his old team mates and tried to convince them to throw games at the tournament in Hungary. Coach Alexander Dimitrov told local media "I talked to him and he confessed everything. He seemed very worried, I think he may have been threatened but it's something the investigation should reveal." In Bulgaria, match-fixing and illegal sports betting are criminal offences. Anyone convicted of attempting to manipulate games faces up to six years in jail.
Sportradar has today extended its partnership with the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), under which Sportradar will monitor betting on a range of CONCACAF and regional competitions for the 2014-2015 competition period. Sportradar will use its unique Fraud Detection System (FDS) to scrutinise worldwide betting on these competitions, and will alert CONCACAF of any suspicious events or patterns. Sportradar Security Services operate the Fraud Detection System (FDS) for several Confederations, including the AFC and UEFA. This unique system allows the company to monitor betting behaviour and patterns worldwide and to identify suspicious activities. Those findings prove invaluable for sports federations and law enforcement agencies that are looking to pinpoint match-fixers.
FIFA subsidiary Early Warning System GmbH (EWS) and CONCACAF have extended a monitoring service agreement to protect the integrity of football as of 17 July 2014. EWS will continue working together with CONCACAF to tackle the threat to the integrity of football in the region by providing CONCACAF with its services, know-how and technical facilities. EWS will monitor betting markets for irregularities and analyse specific match situations. If its analysis indicates strong grounds for suspecting match-fixing, EWS will alert CONCACAF. The partnership started in 2013.
The Sorbonne-ICSS Guiding Principles for Protecting the Integrity of Sports Competitions have this week received further government-level backing, this time from leading Sport Ministers from the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) at the VII Official Conference of Ministers of Sport and Youth of the CPLP. During the historic and unprecedented meeting, which saw Ministers approve a ground-breaking Resolution on Integrity, Good Governance and Financial Transparency in Sport, the Sorbonne – ICSS Guiding Principles were endorsed by Sports Ministers from nine countries in the CPLP, including Brazil, Portugal and Angola, as well as being highlighted once again as a key development in the fight to protect the integrity of sport. In addition to the Sorbonne-ICSS Guiding Principles, CPLP Sports Ministers also acknowledged other recent developments in the prevention and fight against match-fixing, including the pioneering initiatives by UNESCO and the Council of Europe EPAS.
Tough new rules introduced by the Football Association will outlaw all football-related betting for players, club employees and match officials in the top eight tiers of the English game. The draconian new rules mean betting on any match, be it domestic or anywhere in the world, will be prohibited from the start of the 2014-15 season. The crackdown applies to bets made in person, online, on the telephone or through a friend or any third party, the FA states on its website which contains a video explaining the tightening of its gambling rules. Previously, only betting on a match or competition in which an individual was involved, or could influence, was prohibited. However, with massive rise in online betting sites, allowing punters to bet on a huge range of match-related markets, and a steady stream of match-fixing cases from around the world, the FA is tightening its net. It has even turned to former Italian player and now Aston Villa academy coach Simone Farina to help get the message over. Farina played a key role in 2011 stopping a match-fixing attempt while playing for Serie B club Gubbio - his evidence leading to the arrest of 17 people.
The Disciplinary Committee of the French Professional League (LFP) last Thursday imposed sanctions on some of the 87 first and second division players who were caught out after the files of the LFP were compared to lists of those betting on league games. The low-key announcement saw the toughest penalties imposed being three match suspended suspensions and fines of €1,500. The players caught were divided into groups depending on the precise nature of their offence. Eyebrows may be raised at the leniency of these sentences, given that the regulation preventing players from betting on games is in place to prevent matches from being fixed.
Two New Jersey men, including one who ran an illegal sports betting website, have admitted to conspiring with the Genovese organized crime family. Federal prosecutors say 77-year-old Joseph Graziano and 44-year-old Dominick J. Barone, both of Springfield, each pleaded guilty Tuesday to a racketeering conspiracy count. Prosecutors say Graziano was the principal owner of a Costa Rica-based illegal online sports betting website called Beteagle.com. Both men admitted to conspiring with crime family members in the site's operation. Prosecutors say Graziano and Barone helped members of and associates of organized crime to take their traditional illegal betting activities online.
Match-fixing will be a criminal offence carrying a seven-year jail sentence in New Zealand under a bill that has passed its first reading in parliament. The sport and recreation minister Murray McCully says match-fixing is a growing problem internationally and has been described as the main threat to the integrity, value and growth of sport. “As we’ve seen from recent events, New Zealand is not immune to this threat,” he said after his Crimes (Match-fixing) Amendment Bill passed its first reading on Thursday by a unanimous vote. The bill will be passed into law next year ahead of the Cricket World Cup and the Fifa Under-20 World Cup, which will be played in New Zealand. It makes match-fixing a form of deception under the Crimes Act – the offence of obtaining a benefit or causing loss by deception.
ODDS AND ENDS
Football chiefs in Thailand have come up with a novel way of trying to eradicate the country’s match-fixing problem – by getting referees to swear an oath in one of the country’s most famous religious temples. The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) took more than 100 referees to swear before the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok that they would officiate matches honestly after widespread rumours of corruption in the domestic league. The FAT has implemented several measures to stop this and improve the officiating, including using lie-detectors, but match-fixing allegations persist.
As English football introduces new betting regulations - which come into force as of 1st August 2014 -PFA Assistant Chief Executive Simon Barker gives an overview of the PFA's role in educating its members and preventive measures taken to tackle match-fixing. The PFA is one of nine member countries of FIFPro that have been participating in a global project called 'Don't Fix It'. "Last year, PFA staff completed a 'Train the Trainer' course facilitated by Interpol and attended by representatives of FIFA, UEFA, FA and the PFA. This has certainly helped our executives to be able to effectively communicate to our members the key aspects of betting integrity, inside information and match-fixing, and also introduced a new focus on the psychological aspects of getting the message across to members." Domestically, the PFA has been part of a collaborative approach to tackle the threat of match-fixing, working directly with the football industry, governing bodies and player associations from other sports, law enforcement agencies, government and with the gambling industry.
FIFA can today confirm the extension of sanctions imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Italian Football Association (FIGC) in relation to match manipulation. On 28 May 2014, CAS banned Maltese player Kevin Sammut from all football-related activities for a period of ten years following proceedings conducted by UEFA disciplinary bodies in relation to the manipulation of a qualifying match for the UEFA European Football Championship in 2007. On 7 May 2014, the disciplinary committee of the FIGC banned Ghanaian player Mark Edusei from all football-related activities for three years and six months in relation to the manipulation of a match in the Italian Serie B in 2009. FIFA continues to work closely with its member associations and the confederations to tackle match manipulation. As part of a ten-year programme of collaboration with INTERPOL, regional workshops involving key stakeholders are being held all over the world while e-learning programmes are also helping to educate players, coaches and referees on the dangers of match manipulation to help them to avoid becoming victims of this threat to football integrity.
Asia's soccer governing body has extended the domestic ban for nine Vietnamese players to conference level for their role in a match-fixing scandal following a request from the country's association. The Vietnamese Football Federation (VFF) had provisionally banned the Vissai Ninh Binh players in May from taking part in any kind of soccer-related activities after they reportedly admitted to taking money to fix an AFC Cup match. The extension of the ban to regional tournaments shall be for six months from May pending a final verdict by the VFF, the AFC said in a statement on Thursday.
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