Match-Fixing Update: global efforts to ensure World Cup safety

Weekly Media Recap 9 -15 June 2014

Published 17 June 2014

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

United Kingdom

Jurors in the trial of three non-league footballers and two other men, including one from Hastings, accused of involvement in a match-fixing conspiracy have been sent home.
Businessmen Chann Sankaran and Krishna Ganeshan are alleged to have acted together with footballers Hakeem Adelakun, Moses Swaibu and Michael Boateng to commit bribery. During a four-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Boateng, Adelakun and Swaibu were described by the prosecution as "willing recruits" in efforts to influence the course of lower league matches. Sankaran and Ganeshan, who had travelled to the UK from Singapore, both deny the same charge. The jury initially retired on Wednesday afternoon but has yet to reach verdicts on any of the defendants.

Source: "Match-fix plot trial jury sent home", 13 June 2014, Littlehampton Gazette https://www.littlehamptongazette.co.uk/news/regional/match-fix-plot-trial-jury-sent-home-1-6118810

GOOD PRACTICE

CONCACAF

The CONCACAF congress last week included on its agenda the first report of its newly created Sports Integrity Department, delivered by Dr Laila Mintas. Her report included results on investigated cases and the announcement of a whistleblower hotline for fans, players, coaches and executives. The importance of the unit was underlined by CONCACAF president who could have been speaking about his key role in FIFA's anti-discrimination task force in his remarks. CONCACAF has taken a lead amongst confederations with its approach to match-fixing – though they brand it under a wider 'Integrity' banner. Created last November with Mintas brought in from FIFA's Early Warning System to head it up, the Sports Integrity Department has created the confederation's action plan starting with a strategy of prevention through education and creating "efficient regulations against match fixing, investigation and sanctioning match fixing cases with zero tolerance," says Mintas. Two of the newer measures that have now come to fruition are the establishment of a confidential whistleblower system and the 'single point of contact' initiative.

Source: Paul Nicholson, "CONCACAF takes on match-fixers with new set of Integrity tools", 13 June 2014, Inside World Football https://www.insideworldfootball.com/world-football/football-americas/concacaf-news/14852-concacaf-takes-the-challenge-to-match-fixers-with-new-set-of-integrity-tools

El Salvador

The Sports Committee of El Salvador's Legislative Assembly proposed creating a new special committee responsible for investigating match-fixing cases and allegations. The committee also decided to start a new investigation on match-fixing and cited former footballers, FESFUT’s Executive Committee and General Prosecutor Luis Martinez. The agreements were reached after hearing the technical and legal defense statements of lawyer Nelson García, the defense counsel of Alfredo Pacheco, Ramón Flores and Osael Romero, three of the 15 players banned for life by FESFUT due to their links with match-fixing.

Source: Benjamín López; Cristian Peñate, "New match-fixing committee ", 10 June 2014, La Prensa Gráfica https://www.laprensagrafica.com/2014/06/10/comision-para-amaos

FIFA

FIFA has urged member associations to designate one individual to be responsible for all matters related to manipulation, as world football's governing body looks to step up the battle against match-fixing. In the run-up to this week's Congress, FIFA has distributed a 23-page booklet of guidelines to member associations entitled, 'Specific Recommendations to Combat Match Manipulation'. In a covering letter, Jérôme Valcke, FIFA's Secretary General, said: "Match-fixing is a known problem in international sport. Where football is concerned, legal proceedings around the world have provided evidence that it is a global concern that can no longer be ignored." He went on: "At the 63rd FIFA Congress in May 2013, FIFA member association delegates were presented with a thorough report on FIFA's ongoing fight against the scourge of match manipulation and were called upon to implement their own national integrity initiatives with FIFA's guidance and support... "Match manipulation has no place in football. For prevention to be effective, the football community must collaborate in a concerted and cohesive manner by enhancing the exchange of information and best practices, overcoming loopholes in existing legislation, improving legal and judicial cooperation, ensuring that administrative systems with effective and appropriate legal means are established and creating preventive measures and relevant training programmes."

Source: David Owen, "FIFA steps up fight against match manipulation", 9 June 2014, Inside world football https://www.insideworldfootball.com/fifa/14818-fifa-steps-up-fight-against-match-manipulation

Japan

The Japan Sport Council (JSC) today held an “integrity of sport” Symposium in Tokyo in order to promote awareness of various threats to the integrity of sport supported by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Recently the JSC has launched its Sport Integrity Unit, which acts in the areas of fight against doping, harassment and match manipulation in sport, and promotion of good governance among sport organizations in Japan. The JSC will work in cooperation with the FIFA for protecting the integrity of sport. As the first action of the JSC-FIFA agreement, the symposium, attended by around 350 people including sports officials, lawyers, business people, academics and students, took place in order to spread the awareness of potential and existing threats toward sport such as violence, racism, harassment, doping, match fixing, lack of governance and corruption. FIFA also provided a video message from Mr. Ralf Mutschke, FIFA Security Director, who introduced the FIFA Integrity Initiative, a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to fight against match manipulation in football.

Source: "Japan Sport Council promotes awareness of various threats to the integrity of sport", 9 June 2014, Around The Rings https://www.aroundtherings.com/site/A__47321/Title__Japan-Sport-Council-promotes-awareness-of-various-threats-to-the-integrity-of-sport/292/Articles

ILLEGAL BETTING

Hong Kong

Police claim to have broken up the biggest cross-border illegal betting syndicate with the arrest of 26 suspects, including the mastermind, and the seizure of more than HK$11 million in cash and a massive sum in records of wagers. The joint operation with mainland police came with just days to the start of football's World Cup in Brazil. Records of close to HK$700 million in bets were taken along with the cash in US dollars, yuan and Malaysian ringgit besides Hong Kong dollars. Superintendent Ng Wai-hon of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau said the syndicate, operating in Hong Kong and the mainland, took bets on football and horse racing and had been active for more than six months. Hong Kong officers arrested the 26 at 22 locations on Sunday, seizing cash totaling more than HK$10 million and betting records for HK$370 million. Ng said a 46-year-old man who appeared to have bossed the operation and his wife are among those arrested. A source said police found HK$2 million in their North Point apartment. Ng said 11 of the suspects had triad society backgrounds. He also said the syndicate operated three or four websites overseas in an effort to avoid detection by police here.Thousands of people are estimated to have placed bets through those sites. Police are now geared up for tackling illegal betting during the World Cup, which runs from Thursday to July 13, with 32 teams competing for football's greatest prize.

Source: Qi Luo, "Illegal gambling ring given hefty boot for World Cup", 10 June 2014, The Standard https://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?we_cat=4&art_id=146226&sid=42416384&con_type=1&d_str=20140610&fc=1

Malaysia

As the clock struck midnight last night, police declared all-out war against illegal bookies and punters in a drastic bid to wipe out World Cup betting. Roslee said preparations to track down illegal bookies and punters had started three weeks ago. "Op Soga will be conducted during the course of the 2014 World Cup, targeting illegal betting, which would normally take place during any major football tournament." He said illegal football bookmakers now used sexy foreign women to attract customers. "These foreign women target young people and professionals, especially single men, to coax them to place a bet." Roslee said syndicates had also resorted to smartphones to connect with clients to avoid detection, making the clampdown more challenging. However, Roslee said police were confident that with the help of experts, the force could breach the firewall erected by the syndicates and bring them to book.

Source: "Cops Ready To Red-Card Illegal Bookies", 13 June 2014, Malaysian Digest https://goo.gl/0jwfhX

Malaysia

The Home Ministry will cooperate with the Interpol and Fifa to monitor illegal gambling activities during the World Cup in Brazil from June 12 to July 14. Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this had to be done because preliminary monitoring found online gambling activities taking place and the involvement of illegal bookies at the international level. At the domestic level, the police, through experts on illegal gambling, mobilised a forensics unit with the cooperation of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, private security and telecommunication companies. "Under the provisions of Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Act 2001, Malaysian police have taken several steps to curb illegal gambling during the World Cup, and will use Section 6 of the Betting Act 1953, Section 233 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 as well as AMLATFA to go after the culprits." "We hope the World Cup would only be watched and not use for betting," he told a media conference at Parliament's lobby today.

Source: "World Cup gambling: Ministry to cooperate with Interpol, Fifa", 10 June 2014, The Sun Daily https://www.thesundaily.my/news/1074147

Thailand

Police arrested 58 people involved in illegal punting and bookmaking, and closed 391 foreign and local betting websites as the World Cup tournament kicked off early yesterday, a senior police commander said. Of the suspects, seven are alleged bookmakers, 49 punters and another two are bet couriers, Pol Lt-General Anant Srihiran said. He is in charge of the police office assigned to tackle illegal soccer gambling during the global tournament. Anant said the arrests of the 58 people had resulted in the seizure of Bt41,430 in cash and four bankbooks with deposits totalling Bt99,530. As many as 391 betting websites have been blocked, he said, adding that police were monitoring and blocking all attempts to reopen the websites under new URLs.

Source: "58 arrested, 391 betting websites blocked", 14 June 2014, The Nation https://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/58-arrested-391-betting-websites-blocked-30236205.html

ODDS AND ENDS

FIFA

Aside from wondering which national team will be crowned champion, for astute soccer fans the burning question of the upcoming 2014 World Cup is not can matches be fixed by gamblers, but will they be? FIFA assures us that every precaution has been taken to prevent match fixers from corrupting any games played in Brazil. The organization has begun an "Integrity Initiative" among players, featuring the catchy mantra "Recognize it, resist it and report it." To aid in this program, FIFA instituted a hotline for players, team officials and referees to report "suspicious activity" anonymously. The hotline also offers educational material (in five languages) catered to each group match fixers tend to target. FIFA also has its Early Warning System (EWS) in place. Launched in July 2007, the EWS, according to FIFA's website, "monitors betting on all FIFA matches and competitions in order to prevent negative influences from betting." EWS also works to evaluate any opportunities and risks presented by sports betting for the game of football. Ralf Mutschke, FIFA's head of security and a former INTERPOL executive, told the BBC that FIFA has already circled certain World Cup matches that they feel may become suspect. Mutschke also revealed that specific teams have been identified as being vulnerable to fixers. Worse yet, approaches to these teams and players have already occurred. Given the amount of money at stake in the World Cup gambling market, players -- if tempted -- should be holding out for larger bribes.

Source: Brian Tuohy, "Match-Fixing at the World Cup", 10 June 2014, SportsonEarth.com https://www.sportsonearth.com/article/78997916/history-of-match-fixing-at-fifa-world-cup-brazil-england-germany-argentina#!ZFBYG

FIFA

In the lead up to the World Cup, there has been speculation across the media that World Cup matches might be fixed, including reports from the UK’s National Crime Agency that a warm-up friendly between Scotland and Nigeria was under suspicion. Amid all the media frenzy it is worth pointing out there is some substance to these fears. FIFA is certainly taking the threat seriously by implementing the most rigorous security arrangements ever seen at a World Cup. This includes targeting players and referees who they have suspicions about with the presence of security officials at every venue. Players will be given an integrity briefing before the tournament and instructed on the use of a special hotline to report suspicions and approaches. Betting patterns on all games will be monitored by FIFA’s Early Warning System (EWS) that can identify unusual changes in the betting markets.

Source: Andy Harvey, "The World Cup is vulnerable to match fixing, but FIFA has cracked down", 10 June 2014, The Conversation https://theconversation.com/the-world-cup-is-vulnerable-to-match-fixing-but-fifa-has-cracked-down-27776

Federbet

Earlier this week the Belgian sports integrity firm Federbet made a presentation to the European Parliament in which it claimed there is widespread match-fixing across a number of European leagues.The allegations have been denied by sporting bodies as well as the French and Italian gambling regulators. It has been claimed that the allegations are completely unfounded and that there is no evidence to support them. European leagues make use of sophisticated technology to monitor global betting markets and uncover suspicious activity. Furthermore, while Federbet claims it represents 400 partners from the gaming industry, there are no names mentioned on the website and the company is almost completely unheard of. England’s Football Conference quickly issued a statement which said, “At this time there is no evidence that any of the fixtures specifically listed by Federbet, relating to our competition, have been the subject of report or investigation. Therefore we are at a loss to understand what evidence may exist for Federbet to make such claims.” Furthermore, the secretary general of the European Sports Security Association, Khalid Ali, said, “No one within the European regulated betting industry is aware of who Federbet are or what they represent… They appear to be an organization steeped in secrecy”. Federbet responded with a statement saying that its “objective is, and must remain, the fight against fraud and corruption. This fight cannot be completed without all of us moving in the same direction.

Source: Christian Bright, "Unknown Agency Claims Widespread European Match-Fixing", 10 June 2014, Online Casino https://www.onlinecasinoarchives.com/sports/2014/06/10/unkown-agency-claims-widespread-european-match-fixing/

Nigeria

When does a footballer turn into a national icon? Is it when he finally earns a price tag of millions on the trade market? Or is it when he fights a lone war and helps his county qualify for a World Cup? Or could it be when a street is named after him? Nigeria’s most colourful character, Emmanuel Emenike, can stake a claim, having achieved the first two. To help us personalise your reading experience. When Turkish giants Fenerbahce bought him for $13m, the 27-year old became Nigeria’s most expensive export of all time. Also, with three goals in the Super Eagles’ last two do-or-die matches, Emenike also did his fair share in registering a spot in Brazil. Now all that was left was getting his name on a street sign. And Emenike wasn’t in the mood to wait for the decision-makers in Abuja to take the call. So, Nigeria’s latest millionaire did it on his own. He first bought property worth 500 million naira in Lagos’ Manhattan, the Chevy View Estate and promptly rechristened the main road as ‘Emmanuel Emenike Street.’ “Great,” sighed one national newspaper in Nigeria. “Our only footballer worthy of a street name is the only Nigerian footballer who has been arrested for match-fixing.” In 2011, just two months after he joined Fenerbahce, Emenike was put behind bars for his alleged role in fixing matches. Although he was charged by the court, the judge had no ‘credible evidence’ against him, considering he didn’t play a single match for the club! Then, a month on, he was sold to Spartak Moscow, becoming the only man to have ever joined and left the Turkish side without playing a match. But with Emenike, no-shows seem to have plenty of rewards. Fenebahce bought back the man they were once desperate to get rid of in 2013. And a month on, Nigeria had its only footballer-labelled street.

Source: Aditya Iyer, "FIFA World Cup: Streets ahead", 10 June 2014, The Indian EXPRESS https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/fifa-world-cup-streets-ahead/

Thailand

Odd as it may seem, the World Cup 2014 makes the schedule of Assoc Prof Nualnoi Treerat, a lecturer on fiscal policy at Chulalongkorn University and director of the Center for Gambling Studies (CGS), busier. Her speciality is the darker side of the “Beautiful Game”— the illegal betting that is popular among Thais, especially university students. “The next important question is how many first-time football gamblers behave after the World Cup. Do they quit or get deeper into the activity with other tournaments and become addicted? We need to find out about it.” CGS last month unveiled its latest report on gambling, notably football gambling, in Thailand (see box). The report, based on qualitative research of 5,000 Thais aged 15-55 and 2,000 university students, confirmed that football gambling is one of the most popular betting activities in Thailand. With the exception of the government lottery and horse racing, all gambling activities in Thailand are illegal. “Football betting is bourgeoisie gambling. Low-income people usually bet on the lottery while the wealthy go to casinos or the underground lottery — they bet heavily. The educated middle class goes for football betting since it requires news consumption, data and match analysis. The activity has a brainy image,” she said.

Source: Anchalee Kongrut, "Beautiful game has an ugly side ", 10 June 2014, Bangkok Post https://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/family/414465/beautiful-game-has-an-ugly-side

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Russia

Russian tennis player Andrey Kumantsov has been banned from the sport for life for breaking rules on betting and match-fixing. The Tennis Integrity Unit says on Tuesday that the 27-year-old Kumantsov was found guilty of 12 charges under the sport's anti-corruption program after committing a series of offenses from 2010-13. The ban applies with immediate effect. Kumantsov, whose career-high ranking was No. 261 in 2010, has not played a match this year. He has career earnings of $103,856.The integrity unit was formed by the ATP and WTA tours, the International Tennis Federation and the Grand Slam Committee. Details of how Kumantsov broke the rules were not given.

Source: "Russian player Andrey Kumantsov gets lifetime ban for betting, match-fixing", 10 June 2014, Tennis.com https://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2014/06/russian-tennis-player-kumantsov-gets-life-ban/51727/

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