Weekly integrity in sport update from INTERPOL 8-14 February 2016

In this week's media recap we see two match-fixing investigations including Croatia and the Netherlands/Germany, as well as several basketball players and coach being convicted in France for their involvement in illegal betting.

We also see the commencement of a Council of Europe project "Kick Crime Out Of Sport"  (KCOOS) funded by the EU, with international and regional organizations are synergizing efforts to tackle match-fixing worldwide.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Croatia

The national anti-graft USKOK bureau said it was probing Zdravko Mamic and six other people, including his brother Zoran, who is Dinamo coach, son Mario and former director Damir Vrbanovic. Zagreb: Dinamo Zagreb chief Zdravko Mamic resigned on Tuesday a day after Croatian national anti-graft prosecutors opened another multi-million-euro probe against him. Mamic, considered the most powerful man in Croatian football, told reporters he was stepping down as executive director to allow the club to move forward. But the controversial 56-year-old said he would remain as an advisor to the Croatian champions and argued the probes against him were politically motivated "to destroy Dinamo and the Mamic family". "I'm jailed every now and then without any concrete evidence," Mamic, who has already been detained twice, told a press conference. On Monday, the national anti-graft USKOK bureau said it was probing Mamic and six other people including his brother Zoran, who is Dinamo coach, son Mario and former director Damir Vrbanovic. They are alleged to have embezzled nearly 70 million kunas (nine million euros, $10.3 million) of Dinamo Zagreb's money through fictitious deals related to player transfers. There are also being probed for allegedly giving and receiving bribes, tax evasion and other offences to the tune of 17 million euros. Mamic was Dinamo Zagreb executive president since 2011 and has held top positions in the club since the early 1990s.

Source: AP, "Dinamo Zagreb Boss Zdravko Mamic Quits Amid Corruption Allegations ", 9 February 2016, NDTV News, https://sports.ndtv.com/football/news/255349-dinamo-zagreb-boss-zdravko-mamic-quits-amid-corruption-allegations

Netherlands

A Dutch national has been arrested in Germany as part of an investigation into fixing football matches, the Volkskrant reports on Monday. A warrant for his arrest was issued earlier. The German authorities did not disclose the man’s identity but he is thought to be Daniel van ‘t H, who has been under suspicion of trying to bribe several German players to throw games. He is said to have worked with Dutchman Paul R, extradited to Germany last year on suspicion of involvement in large-scale match-fixing in 2008 and 2009. R has denied any involvement but admits to being an active gambler. Known as ‘Rooie Paul’, he hails from Noordwijk and had been in jail in the Netherlands for fencing stolen paintings. He is currently appealing against that sentence. According to Voetbal International, German player René Schnitzler claims he was offered thousands of euros by R to throw a match with his old club FC Sankt Pauli. The Volkskrant says Van ‘t H is also thought to have manipulated three Sankt Pauli games in 2008. His lawyer has declined to comment. Van ‘t H is also under investigation for organising illegal betting in the Netherlands.

Source: AP, "Dutchman arrested in Germany on match-fixing charges", 8 February 2016, Dutch News, https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2016/02/84647-2/

 

ILLEGAL BETTING

France

Paris: Six basketball players and a coach have received punishments ranging from community service to bans for betting on ProA and ProB games in France, the National Baskeball League (LNB) said on Friday. The cases, however, were found not to relate to match-fixing which shook French handball in 2012 and football last year. "After studying the cases and hearing the players and coaches on January 29 it turned out that the sports bets carried out were not intended to change the normal and fair course of competition," LNB statement read. Former France international Stephen Brun received the stiffest penalty with the player of ProA side Cholet getting a 10-match ban, of which five were suspended, and fined 1,000 euros ($1,124). Cholet coach Jerome Navier was ordered to carry out three activities to raise awareness of betting in sport.

Source: AP, "Six Players, Coach Penalised For Betting in France ", 12 February 2016, NDTV Sports, https://sports.ndtv.com/basketball/news/255440-six-players-coach-penalised-for-betting-in-france

ODDS AND ENDS

Belgium

An international project to address match-fixing in sport kicked off today with ESSA (European Sports Security Association), the body representing most of the world’s biggest regulated betting firms, amongst the key stakeholders participating in the EU funded initiative that is being led by the Council of Europe. Other key stakeholders involved in the Kick Crime Out of Sport (KCOOS) project include INTERPOL, the International Olympic Committee and the British and French regulatory authorities. Meeting in Brussels, stakeholders discussed the scope of the project that will seek to deliver practical resources such as the development of a Handbook on Good Practices. There will also be a number of regional events worldwide to gather information and explore effective legislative models and tools to deal with match-fixing, such as player education and information exchange. Khalid Ali, Secretary General of ESSA said of the news: “The project marks another important milestone in the development of an effective and coordinated international collaboration between key stakeholders that are intent on driving criminals out of sport. Responsible regulated betting operators want nothing else than sport to be free from manipulation and will do whatever we can to help to achieve that.“ The 18-month project was approved following the Council of Europe’s successful bid to a European Commission call for proposals on “New integrated mechanisms for cooperation between public and private actors to identify sports betting risks”. It primarily aims to raise awareness on match-fixing and to promote the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions. This will be accomplished by assisting countries in implementing the convention nationally, and gathering information on the current status in the fight against match fixing and sports betting regulations and to build a network of national contacts. Additionally it’ll seek to offer practical assistance and to facilitate the exchange of good practices among countries as well as assist with the setting up of national platforms, regulatory structures and other supporting structures and to strengthen the institutional capacity of relevant authorities.

Source: Sam Cooke, "Kick Crime Out of Sport project launched by ESSA and key stakeholders", 11 February 2016, SBC News, https://www.sbcnews.co.uk/retail/2016/02/11/kick-crime-out-of-sport-project-launched-by-essa-and-key-stakeholders/

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

International Tennis Federation (ITF)

According to an exclusive report from Sean Ingle of The Guardian, two worldwide tennis umpires have been banned and four others risk being banned as well for manipulating live betting scores in tournaments on the global Tennis Federation's (ITF) Futures Tour. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) failed to release details on either incident, which again calls into question the transparency of the organisation, something that was repeatedly championed as one of its key traits despite concerns there had been cover-ups of previous match-fixing incidents. Kazakhstan's Kirill Parfenov was banned for life in February 2015 while Croatia's Denis Pitner received a 12-month sanction in August of the same year, but details of the punishments only emerged yesterday. Four other unidentified officials were suspended while investigations continue into their conduct. This approach is being reviewed as part of the recently announced Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis that will be chaired by Adam Lewis QC.

When asked why the latest suspensions had only just been revealed, the ITF confirmed its Code of Conduct for Officials had not required those sanctioned to be named, until the code was amended at the start of 2016. But the spectre of match umpires possibly colluding with betting syndicates by manipulating live scoring data at low-ranking events is a further blow to the sport's image. "Should any official be found guilty of an offence, it will be announced publicly". The bans are on top of the life ban handed to French official Morgan Lamri in 2014 after an investigation by the TIU. The allegation is that some umpires at low-key Futures tournaments in Eastern Europe have delayed updating scores for up to 60 seconds, enabling gamblers who are in on the scam to place bets knowing what happened next. Betting companies have been able to offer markets on low-level tournaments since the ITF signed a contract with data company Sportradar in 2012 to provide live scoring. The bans follow allegations of widespread match-fixing made before the Australian Open last month in a joint investigation by BuzzFeed and the BBC.

Source: AP, "Two umpires banned, four investigated over corruption: ITF", 13 February 2016, The Lake Andes Wave, https://thelakeandeswave.com/2016/02/13/two-umpires-banned-four-investigated-over-corruption-itf.html

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