Match-fixing update: FIFA deny Cameroon World Cup 2014 game fixed and ECB ban Lou Vincent for life

Weekly Media Recap 30 June - 6 July 2014

Published 09 July 2014

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Cameroon

Fifa says there has been no evidence of match-fixing at any World Cup match and has called on a German magazine making allegations to provide proof. Convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal has denied he correctly predicted Cameroon's result against Croatia before the game.

Der Spiegel magazine, which made the allegations, is standing by its report. Cameroon lost each of their three Group A games, including a 4-0 defeat by Croatia in which midfielder Alex Song was sent off in the 40th minute. The Croatian FA says it did not have any concerns "during or after the match".

Source: "World Cup 2014: Fifa says no proof of Cameroon match-fixing", 2 July 2014, BBC Sport https://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28132691 

Ghana

The two men who were identified in an investigation by the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, as engaging in an alleged attempt to fix Black Stars matches in collaboration with the Ghana Football Association have been arrested. Christopher Forsythe, described as a licensed agent of football’s governing body, FIFA and Obed Nketiah, also described as an official of a Ghanaian football club respectively, were reportedly taken into custody days after a report was filed with the police by the GFA. The pair have since been granted bail while their statements are taken and have had travel restrictions placed on them to aid in investigations. Speaking to Citi News, the Public Relations Officer of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service, ASP Joseph Darkwah, confirmed that Mr. Forsythe and Mr. Nketiah had been taken into custody as part of their investigations into the allegations.

Source: "Two implicated in GFA match-fixing scandal arrested", 2 July 2014, Citi News https://www.citifmonline.com/2014/07/02/two-implicated-in-gfa-match-fixing-scandal-arrested/ 

Hong Kong

Two former Happy Valley players and a former team official allegedly involved in match-fixing all pleaded not guilty in Eastern Court yesterday. Fan Weijun, 35, a former assistant coach and player from the mainland, and Sasa Mus, 27, a former player from Croatia, are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud. The team's former deputy team manager Hinson Leung, 26, faces one count of betting with a bookmaker, contrary to Section 8 of the Gambling Ordinance. Leung allegedly placed bets through a bookmaking site on the First Division match between Happy Valley and Sun Hei on January 5, which his team lost 5-0. Mus and Leung will return to Eastern Court on August 1 for a pre-trial review. Fan's review will take place three days later.

Source: Chris Lau, "Happy Valley soccer players plead not guilty to match-fixing charges", 4 July 2014, South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1546452/happy-valley-soccer-players-plead-not-guilty-match-fixing-charges 

Latvia

UEFA are set to investigate claims that Aberdeen’s 5-0 Europa League victory over Latvian outfit FK Daugava Riga was fixed. The match-fixing allegations do not involve Aberdeen in any way, the agency have confirmed. Goals from Jonny Hayes, Shay Logan, Niall McGinn and a brace from Adam Rooney gave the Dons a 5-0 victory over Daugava, who had two men sent off following second yellow cards for Vitalijs Zils and Aurimas Kucys. Fellow Latvian outfit Dinaburg - whom Hibernian beat 8-0 on aggregate in an Intertoto Cup tie in 2006 - were expelled from the Baltic Football League and the Virsliga in October 2009 following proof of match-fixing and betting against the team. The club’s president, Oleg Gavrilov, and trainer Tamaz Pertia were banned for life as a result.

Source: "UEFA probe match-fixing claims over Aberdeen match", 5 July 2014, The Scotsman https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/latest/uefa-probe-match-fixing-claims-over-aberdeen-match-1-3467456#.U7mFg4MFXcs.twitter
 

New Zealand

Disgraced former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent has admitted match-fixing and is expected to receive a life ban from all participation in the sport in England on Tuesday, a punishment he is prepared to accept. The 35-year-old Vincent had previously said he was co-operating with anti-corruption officials from both the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) relating to allegations of his involvement in the spot-fixing of matches. Vincent has already been banned by the Bangladesh Cricket Board for three years for failing to report an approach from match fixers.

Source: Greg Stutchbury, "Former New Zealand batsman Vincent admits match-fixing", 1 July 2014, Reuters, https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-uk-cricket-matchfixing-vincent-20140701,0,2162848.story 

Non-country specific

Two referees working at the World Cup have been identified as strong suspects in the fixing of international games, the Mail on Sunday can reveal. Sources say FIFA were informed during the current tournament that there is evidence of alleged past malpractice by at least two officials on duty. FIFA responded to Mail on Sunday questions about the allegedly corrupt officials by saying: ‘It is important to note that we have no indications that the integrity of the FIFA World Cup has been compromised.’ On the subject of the allegedly corrupt referees who have been working at Brazil 2014, a FIFA spokesman told the Mail on Sunday that any action taken against a corrupt party would become public only after such action had been sanctioned by various FIFA committees.

Source: Nick Harris, "Two referees at World Cup suspected of match-fixing... but FIFA only found out about past allegations after tournament started", 6 July 2014, TheMailOnline, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/worldcup2014/article-2682117/Two-referees-World-Cup-suspected-match-fixing-FIFA-past-allegations-tournament-started.html
 

Singapore

Ding Si Yang, a Singaporean businessman, was found guilty of supplying prostitutes to soccer officials in exchange for fixing matches. The conviction comes after a syndicate based in Singapore was named in a European probe as being responsible for rigging or attempting to fix 680 matches from 2008 to 2011. Soccer’s governing body FIFA is probing games played in the last World Cup build-up by 2010 host South Africa, which it says appear to have been manipulated with possible links to convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal. Ding, who faces as long as five years in jail for each charge, will be sentenced on July 22. His lawyer Hamidul Haq said Ding, 32, will appeal the verdict. His bail was raised to S$400,000 from S$300,000. Ding had pleaded not guilty to providing free sexual services to three Lebanese referees. He was a freelance reporter doing soccer-related research for a book, his lawyer had said during the trial.

Source: Andrea Tan, "Singaporean Guilty of Offering Sex to Fix Soccer Matches", 1 July 2014, Bloomberg https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-01/singaporean-guilty-of-offering-sex-to-fix-soccer-matches.html

ILLEGAL BETTING

China

Sixty-eight people in south China's Guangdong province have been sentenced to jail terms of up to nine years in the country's largest online gambling case that generated USD 78 billion in illegal bets. The gambling ring illegally opened online casinos and attracted bets valued at 484 billion yuan (USD 78 billion) from March 2008 to April 2013, the Liwan district people's court in the provincial capital Guangzhou said in a statement. Of the total convicted, 55 were found guilty of opening online casinos, seven guilty of gambling and six guilty of both crimes, according to the statement. The online betting ring operated via gambling websites, including Huangguan and Yongligao, with servers outside China.

Source: "68 jailed in online gambling case", 4 July 2014, Xinhua https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014-07/04/content_17649152.htm

Korea (Rep. of)

Cambodian police have arrested a group of North Koreans caught running illegal gambling websites in Phnom Penh, Yohnap News Agency reported. The report late Wednesday quoted an unidentified South Korean government source as saying that the North Koreans were detained during a raid on a villa in April. Cambodian police "also seized computers and other related equipment," the South Korean news agency said.

Source: "North Koreans arrested for gambling websites in Phnom Penh: report", 3 July 2014, The Cambodia Herald, https://www.thecambodiaherald.com/cambodia/detail/1?page=15&token=NTE4MzRlNmQ5NTJ 

Singapore

Amid excitement over the World Cup, eight men have been arrested for their suspected involvement in illegal football bookmaking and punting activities, the police said yesterday. They follow the arrests made last month of 15 people after an operation on June 21, in connection with illegal football bookmaking and punting activities understood to be linked to the ongoing World Cup. In the latest round of arrests, cash amounting to about S$190,000 as well as computers, laptops, mobile phones and documents such as betting records were seized. The operation, which involved officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the Police Intelligence Department, was part of the police’s ongoing efforts to clamp down on illegal football betting activities.

Source: "Eight arrested over illegal football bookmaking, punting", 3 July 2014, Today Online,  https://m.todayonline.com/singapore/eight-arrested-over-illegal-football-bookmaking-punting

Vietnam

At least six people were arrested during a raid organized by the Ministry of Public Security on an online football betting racket in Ho Chi Minh City, the day before the World Cup quarterfinals. Thousands of gamblers had placed bets with the syndicate, which was caught holding more than VND1.5 trillion (US$70 million), police said on Thursday. Police say they've tracked illegal bets placed on M88.com since the beginning of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They found that gamblers created an account on M88.com and transferred money to bookmakers abroad through a number of local intermediaries--some of whom were arrested on Thursday. Police say M88.com quickly became the biggest betting website in Vietnam with agents in almost every city and province.

Source: Hoai Nam, "Vietnam cracks down on biggest online football betting ring", 4 July 2014, Thanh Nien Newshttps://www.thanhniennews.com/society/vietnam-cracks-down-on-biggest-online-football-betting-ring-28050.html

LEGISLATION

Greece

Cyprus wants to arm its police with broad new powers to help combat illegal gambling operations. New legislation being discussed in parliament would allow police to shut down venues where suspected illegal gambling was taking place without waiting for a judge’s blessing. The new law, which politicians expect will pass before they break for summer, would also see illegal gambling proprietors face maximum sentences of five years in prison and fines of €300k. Legislators in Greece also want a crackdown on illegal gambling after figures from the Greek Gaming Oversight and Control Commission indicated the legal Greek gambling market had shrunk 37% in the past five years. On Tuesday, Ekathimerini quoted Sourias saying the head of the Hellenic Gaming Commission had assured him that steps were being taken to rein in “organized crime rings operating without constraint.” Sourlas told new Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias that illegal gambling was “harming the national economy and acting as a mechanism for laundering ill-gotten gains.

Source: Steven Stradbrooke, "Cyprus, Greece planning new measures to combat unauthorized gambling", 1 July 2014, CalvinAyre.com,  https://calvinayre.com/2014/07/01/business/cyprus-greece-new-measures-combat-unauthorized-gambling/

Portugal

Online gambling trade organisation the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has said while it welcomes the Portuguese government’s decision to regulate the country’s online gambling market, it is concerned that ‘unworkable’ tax rates could render the market unviable for internet sports betting operators. The RGA said that punitive taxes on stakes of 8-16% for online sports betting proposed in the current draft law could deter operators from applying for licences and investing in Portugal. The proposed online gambling law is currently in the process of going through Portuguese parliamentary process.

Source: "RGA voices concerns over draft Portuguese online gambling law", 4 July 2014, iGamingBusiness, https://www.igamingbusiness.com/news/rga-voices-concerns-over-draft-portuguese-online-gambling-law

ODDS AND ENDS

FIFA

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has expressed concern over match fixing in international football. In an interview with Brazilian television channel Sportv, Valcke said there was no way of knowing if games played during the World Cup had been manipulated, reports Xinhua. "It exists and it's something that we are not going to eliminate hundred percent," the governing body's World Cup chief said. "It happens at the highest level and at the lower levels. What we can do is control legal betting. We work with two companies that monitor this around the world. But it's very difficult to fight against what is done behind the scenes."

Source: "FIFA Secretary General concerned over match fixing", 2 July 2014, Toronto Telegraphhttps://www.torontotelegraph.com/index.php/sid/223456647/scat/b8de8e630faf3631

FIFPro

Tony Higgins has spent the last couple of years fronting FIFPro's high-profile campaign to combat match-fixing, getting on first-name terms with those at Interpol and gaining the inside track on the poisonous grip that international criminals currently have on the beautiful game. Higgins is eager to alter the general perception that it is only players accepting bribes. He insists greater attention must be paid to those further up the tree who find themselves in the position of facilitators. "In Russia, there is talk of putting players in jail for five or six years. That is all very well, but I equate it to the drug trade. If you put the poor victim on the street in jail for five years, there will be another poor victim to replace him. But how do you get to the head of the serpent?" With the gambling industry having altered dramatically in recent years and markets now existing on almost everything than can unfold within a match, players can make money from committing an act that would not necessarily have an influence on a final result. Higgins, though, warns that such low-level involvement is only stage one of the game.

Source: "Player union is at forefront of battle against criminality", 2 July 2014, Herald Scotlandhttps://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/football/player-union-is-at-forefront-of-battle-against-criminality.24643269

Montenegro

The early qualifying rounds of tournaments like the Europa League are perfect targets for match-fixing. Little media coverage, often no video, small clubs with players looking to make quick money. Questions have arisen after Slovenian club FC Luka Koper beat Montenegran side FK Celik Niksic 5-0 in the first round of Europa League qualifying. The reason so many red flags were raised is the actions of experienced goalkeeper Vladan Giljen, who has formerly played in the Portuguese Primer Liga with CD Nacional. He played so poorly that people are starting to wonder whether it’s possibly to produce such a disastrous match. In addition, there’s history with Celik. Back in 2012 Europa League qualifying, they lost to Russian side Metalurg Donetsk a combined 11-2 over two legs. Last year in the same competition, they fell to Hungarian club Budapest Honved FC a combined 13-1.

Source: Kyle Bonn, "Laughable goalkeeping in Europa League qualifier leads to match-fixing suspicions", 6 July 2014, NCB Sports, https://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/06/laughable-goalkeeping-in-europa-league-qualifier-leads-to-match-fixing-suspicions/

New Zealand

Lou Vincent's life ban for match fixing may deter other players from reporting offences, New Zealand Cricket Players' Association boss Heath Mills has said. Vincent, 35, was banned from all forms of cricket on Tuesday after admitting 18 match-fixing offences. Mills, who facilitated legal help for Vincent after the former New Zealand batsman confided to him that he had been involved in corruption, added: "The bigger goal here has to be the fight against corruption in our sport. The anti-corruption officers have few tools in this fight and their most important tool is information from players. So by not giving people credit for coming forward and providing information, you are effectively putting up a significant barrier for anyone coming forward in the future."

Source: "Lou Vincent ban 'a barrier' to others reporting offences", 5 July 2014, BBC Sporthttps://www.bbc.com/sport/0/cricket/28174220

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

China

A former Chinese FIFA referee has received a one-year reduction in his prison sentence for good behavior, a Beijing court said on Wednesday. Lu Jun, 55, attended a sentence-reduction hearing in a courtroom in Yancheng Prison, Hebei province. Lu had been sentenced to five years and six months in prison in February 2012 for accepting match-fixing bribes totaling 810,000 yuan ($130,400). He was scheduled to be released on Sept 2, 2015. Prison officer Zhang Xiaohua said that the prison decided to reward Lu with the commutation and applied for the reduction to the court in June because Lu performed well and received prison awards six times between December 2012 and April this year.

Source: Cao Yin, "Ex-FIFA ref's prison term cut by one year", 2 July 2014, China Daily, https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014-07/02/content_17638887.htm

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