Match Fixing Update: major arrests in Singapore as FIFA claims World Cup threats successfully mitigated
Weekly Media Recap 19-25 May 2014
Singapore police said they have arrested 18 people believed to be part of a multi-million dollar illegal football betting ring less than a month before the World Cup starts.
"Preliminary investigations revealed that the suspects are believed to have received illegal soccer bets amounting to an estimated Sg$8 million ($6.4 million) in the past two weeks alone," the force said in a statement released on its website late Monday. It did not reveal the nationalities of the suspects, 16 women and two men, who were detained during raids on Sunday and Monday. Cash totalling Sg$1.4 million as well as computers, mobile phones, and documents detailing betting and bank transaction records were seized during the raid, police said. "Bookmakers and bettors who assume that they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to commit criminal offences should think twice," deputy assistant commissioner of police Kenny Tan warned in the statement. "The police will find them and prosecute both bookmakers and bettors alike to the fullest extent of the law." If convicted, the suspects face fines of between Sg$20,000 and Sg$200,000 and up to five years in jail. Sports betting is deeply entrenched in wealthy Singapore, with top European league matches the most favoured among punters. The Singapore Totalisator Board, which manages the country's two legal football betting and lottery companies, saw revenues of $983.3 million in the year to March 2013, from a total population of just 5.4 million. Experts say there are dozens of illegal football betting outfits in the city-state. Last year, Singapore police nabbed fourteen people believed to be members of a global match-fixing syndicate, including the suspected mastermind Dan Tan. In June last year, three Lebanese referees were convicted by a Singapore court of accepting sexual services in return for fixing future games. Singaporean businessman Eric Ding, who is accused of offering the bribes, is currently on trial.
Source: "Singapore swoops on illegal betting ring ahead of World Cup", 20 May 2014, The Times of India
Match-fixing trial set to begin for former players Michael Boateng, Hakeem Adelakun and Moses Swaibu
The trial of five men charged with perpetrating English football’s biggest match-fixing scandal for decades is scheduled to begin on Monday. Three former players are among those on trial following a Telegraph Online investigation in November last year and a subsequent National Crime Agency investigation. Michael Boateng, Hakeem Adelakun and Moses Swaibu are accused of bribery, alongside Chann Sankaran and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan. Boateng, Adelakun and Swaibu all face one count of bribery and another of plotting to commit the same offence, while Sankaran and Ganeshan are charged with three counts of bribery and one of conspiracy to commit bribery. It is alleged Ganeshan and Sankaran, both originally from Singapore, conspired together with the footballers to commit bribery between Nov 1 and Nov 27 last year. Boateng, 22, of Davidson Road, Croydon, and Adelakun, 23, of Mayfield Crescent, Thornton, are alleged to have requested and agreed to receive a payment of €450 (£366). Both have since been sacked by Brighton-based Whitehawk FC, who play in the Conference South. Swaibu, 25, of Tooley Street, Bermondsey, London, who left the same club in November, is accused of requesting and accepting £3,000 from Ganeshan, of Hougang Avenue, Singapore, and Sankaran, of Hawthorn Road, Hastings. Matches involved in the alleged fixes took place in Manchester and elsewhere between Nov 1 and Nov 26 last year. All five men pleaded not guilty to the various charges at Birmingham Crown Court in March, with the players bailed to reappear on Monday for the start of what is expected to be a five-week trial. Ganeshan and Sankaran were remanded in custody. Monday’s trial begins while the NCA continues to conduct a separate match-fixing investigation that resulted in 13 arrests last month.
Source: Ben Rumsby, "Match-fixing trial set to begin for former players Michael Boateng, Hakeem Adelakun and Moses Swaibu", 19 May 2014, The Telegraph
New match-fixing charges are being pushed through by the Government before the Cricket World Cup. The legislation, introduced by Sport and Recreation Minister Murray McCully earlier this month, would introduce a maximum sentence of seven years' jail for New Zealand athletes or officials who deliberately influenced an event for betting purposes. The Government was concerned about the holes in New Zealand law in relation to match-fixing and spot-fixing, especially because this country was hosting two major international sporting events next year, the Cricket World Cup and under-20 Football World Cup. At present, athletes can be sanctioned by sporting bodies for these activities, but not charged with a crime. In order to get the anti-corruption measures passed in time for two major events, the bill will have a narrow focus - it will only introduce an offence for improperly manipulating a sports event. New Zealand authorities will be able to prosecute if any of the match-fixing process - a discussion, a transaction, or the actual game - took place in New Zealand. If a player put their betting earnings in a New Zealand bank account, they could also be liable for prosecution. Match-fixing by a New Zealander, which took place entirely in a foreign country, would not be captured by the new bill. The legislation would not criminalise a player for using inside information for betting, or for failing to disclose approaches by a person wanting to fix a game. These activities would, however, be against the rules in a new corruption and match-fixing code which was not legally binding. Asked about the match-fixing investigation yesterday, Prime Minister John Key said he thought the investigation would reflect badly on the individuals involved, but would not taint New Zealand sport "or New Zealand as a whole".
Source: Isaac Davison, "Tough match-fixing penalties on cards under new law", 21 May 2014, The New Zealand Herald
Odds and Ends
FIFA's director of security believes the governing body have successfully mitigated the threat of match-fixing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Former Interpol director Ralf Mutschke – tasked with protecting the honour of football – has confidence in FIFA's long-term integrity measures to ensure criminality is eradicated from the game. Mutschke acknowledged that an event of the magnitude of the World Cup would be targeted by fixers, but said the organisation's several preventative steps have left him confident of an incident-free tournament. "First of all, match manipulation and match fixing is the evil to all sports including football," Mutschke said. "Football is being played worldwide and therefore we are threatened by organised crime, by criminals on a worldwide level. Fixers are trying to look for football matches which are generating a huge betting volume, and obviously an international tournament such as the World Cup generates this kind of huge volumes. Therefore the World Cup in general has a certain risk. Nevertheless, I do not think that from the point of security the threat of match manipulation at the World Cup is a big one. We established the FIFA integrity initiative in 2012. It is a holistic approach, a multi-disciplinary approach which focuses on very important issues such as information gathering, detection, risk management, investigations, sanctions, media strategy and prevention." Mutschke added that FIFA had spent a significant amount of money of preventative measures and that betting markets for all matches at the World Cup would be closely monitored.
Source: "FIFA confident of no World Cup fixing", 23 May 2014, Soccerway
With just weeks before the big tournament, experts have warned that illegal gamblers would target the World Cup Finals despite FIFA mounting its biggest operation to combat match fixing. Former Interpol chief Khoo Boon Hui (presently ICSS) has reportedly claimed that bold criminals would not be discouraged from attempting to rig games and experts have said that the size of any bribe will match the importance of the occasion. Although football's governing body feels confident that steps taken to combat corruption would be effective in ensuring the World Cup's integrity, FIFA's own security director has admitted 'dead rubbers' towards the end of the group stages are among those most vulnerable, the Daily Express reported. Hui said that why should the fixers be worried about fixing World Cup matches, adding that maybe the costs would be higher because the players get paid more and more, so one has to risk bribe money being higher.
Source: "World Cup finals would be targeted by illegal betters", 25 May 2014, ANI News
Swedish authorities are investigating claims that the country's basketball league has been the subject of match-fixing which has cost the state gambling monopoly millions of crowns, local media reported on Tuesday. State-owned gambling company Svenska Spel and the Swedish Basketball Federation have studied dozens of suspicious games and reported six matches they consider to have been fixed to the police for further investigation, newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported. "We have made a very careful analysis and we believe that it is beyond reasonable doubt that things have not gone the way they should here," Svenska Spel spokesman Johan Soederkvist told Dagens Nyheter. Betting shops in Sweden are controlled by the state and require that gamblers making bets of over 500 Swedish crowns ($75.8) show identification when placing their bets. According to the investigations carried out by Svenska Spel and the Swedish Basketball Federation, in one instance hundreds of bets of this size were placed within seconds of each other, to get around the early-warning systems used by bookmakers to flag possible match-fixing. The total payout on winning bets for that game alone is reported to have been over a million Swedish crowns, leading the authorities to suspect that the result had been fixed. "This is an extremely serious attack on our sport and on the values that the sport is based on," Hans von Uthmann, chairman of the Swedish Basketball Federation, was quoted as saying. "Match-fixing is a growing problem and it is essential that we try to curtail it," he added.
Source: Reuters, "Swedish authorities investigate match-fixing", 20 May 2014, Euro Sport
The Sport and Recreation Alliance is repeating calls for government to make match-fixing a criminal offence, in the wake of the news that two cricket players are about to be charged with fixing the outcome of a country cricket match. Since 2010, the Alliance has lead the Sports Betting Group (SBG), which includes representatives from the Football Association, England and Wales Cricket Board, British Horseracing Authority, Rugby Football Union, Professional Players Federation and the Premier League. After a sustained period of campaigning by the SBG, last month the Gambling Commission changed its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice to help protect the integrity of sport. The changes mean that sports bodies will have greater access to information about suspicious betting patterns and provides a significant boost in NGBs' efforts to wipe out match-fixing and corrupt betting. But the Alliance’s Head of Policy, James Allen, doesn’t feel that the changes have gone far enough and has called for tougher action on match-fixing and for all serious cases to be pursued through the courts. “We have been calling on the government to make match-fixing a specific criminal offence to make it easier to prosecute cases. Speculation that players suspected of being involved in fixing will avoid criminal charges sends out the wrong message."
Source: "Alliance: Tougher action needed on match fixing", 22 May 2014, Sports and Recreation UK News
The England and Wales Cricket Board has charged Lou Vincent and his former Sussex teammate Naved Arif with fixing the outcome of a county match, the governing body announced on Thursday. Vincent, the former New Zealand batsman, who has already confessed to fixing in several countries, has been charged with a total of 14 offences in relation to two county matches in August 2011 a Twenty20 match between Sussex and Lancashire and a 40-over game between Sussex and Kent. Arif, a Pakistani, has been charged with six offences in relation to the 40-over game between Sussex and Kent in August 2011. The ECB said both players had been "provisionally suspended from all cricketing activities" worldwide. Chris Watts, the head of the ECB's anti-corruption unit, said in a board statement: "This has been an extremely complex and lengthy investigation co-ordinated across many jurisdictions around the world. This matter is now the subject of formal legal proceedings and we will therefore make no further comment other than to re-iterate our determination to bring to account the very small minority who seek to corrupt cricket.". If the men are found guilty, it would be the first proven case of the result of a county match being fixed. British newspaper The Telegraph added there were suspicions at the time the match was corrupt but it was cleared by the ICC's much criticised anti-corruption unit, under fire for its failure to bring to book a major fixer. But the case was reopened in August 2012 by the ECB's own security unit, led by former Metropolitan Police detective Chris Watts. Whether Vincent, who is now in Auckland, and Arif will face criminal charges will depend upon whether British prosecutors decide if such action is the best use of taxpayers' money. The controversial Lord's Test of 2011 led to three Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamer being banned and jailed for their roles in a spot-fixing scam.
Source: "Former teammates charged for match fixing", 24 May 2014, The Fiji Times
Turkish clubs Sivasspor and Eskisehirspor face Europa League expulsion for involvement in a domestic match-fixing scandal in 2011. UEFA said in a statement on Wednesday that its appeal panel will hear disciplinary cases against the clubs on June 2-3. ''UEFA applies a `zero-tolerance' principle as regards the participation of clubs in UEFA competitions which have been involved in match-fixing activities,'' the football body said. UEFA rules demand clubs are disqualified from the Champions League or Europa League if match-fixing is proven since April 2007, when its legal statutes were updated to take tougher action against clubs involved in corruption. Both clubs were implicated in deliberately losing to eventual champion Fenerbahce late in the 2010-11 season.
Source: "2 Turkish clubs face Europa League expulsion", 21 May 2014, SI Soccer
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- Tags: Anti-Corruption | England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) | FIFA | Football | International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) | International Cricket Council (ICC) | INTERPOL | Match-Fixing | New Zealand | Singapore | Sports Betting Group (SBG) | SpoSport and Recreation Alliance | Sweden | Turkey | UEFA | United Kingdom (UK) | World Cup
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