Weekly integrity in sport update from INTERPOL 23-29 November 2015

In this week’s recap, we have two internal investigations involving possible cases of match-fixing having occurred during the match Albania vs Armenia (match qualifying for Euro 2016) and one enquiry opened by Malta FA Integrity Office with regards to a speculation that a player received an approach to throw a Premier League game.

Another interesting article regards the well-known Singaporean Tan Seet Eng (also known as Dan Tan), detained in jail for more than two years under suspicion of being the mastermind of a global match-fixing syndicate, released after the Singaporean Court of Appeal ruled he was being held unlawfully.

Meanwhile Netherlands published the result of a survey regarding the gambling market in the country. This survey demonstrated once more that the online gambling market could be significantly larger than it normally being estimated.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Albania

Albania’s place in Euro 2016 could be in doubt, after the head of the Armenian FA suggested a “betrayal” took place in his country’s match against the Balkan state in October.

A 3-0 victory for Albania in Yerevan, looked to have sealed their first appearance at a major tournament, but match-fixing allegations have put a question mark over their participation in Euro 2016.

Our national team players simply do not want to play. As for the match against Albania, there was a betrayal during it. If even the best coach had headed our team during the match against Albania, the result would have been the same,” said Ruben Hayrapetian, who is in charge of the Armenian Football Federation (FFA), reports World Soccer.

Denmark will keep a close eye on any possible UEFA investigation, after they finished two points behind the Albanians in qualifying, and lost to Scandinavian rivals Sweden in the play-offs.

Source: AP, "Albania could face disqualification from Euro 2016 over match-fixing allegations", 27 November 2015, The 42, https://www.the42.ie/albania-match-fixing-allegations-2469918-Nov2015/

Malta

Speculation that a player received an approach to throw a Premier League game has triggered a probe by the Malta FA Integrity Office.

The investigation centres on the first-round meeting between relegation strugglers Naxxar Lions and St Andrew’s, played at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on October 31. According to information obtained by Times of Malta, the Malta FA Integrity Office, spearheaded by Franz Tabone, launched the probe as soon as they got wind of the rumours of the alleged match-fixing approach. Naxxar came from behind to take the three points after beating StAndrew’s 2-1 in a generally balanced encounter. A number of persons, including the player at the centre of these rumours, coaches and club officials, have already been spoken to by Tabone in a bid to gather more information and establish the veracity of the allegations which surfaced only a few days after the match. The president of one of the two clubs concerned reportedly requested an urgent meeting with Tabone last week after being made aware of the allegations swirling around the league match involving his team. Inquiries are still on-going. At this stage, the investigating officers are believed to have found no evidence that the Naxxar Lions-St Andrew’s game may have fallen victim to illegal gambling but SportRadar have been asked to provide information on the betting patterns related to the match.

Source: Kevin Azzopardi, "MFA probing rumours of match-fixing approach", 28 November 2015, Times of Malta, https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20151128/football/MFA-probing-rumours-of-match-fixing-approach.593790

 

LEGISLATION

Netherlands

The VVD and PvdA wants to allow online sports gambling, but block match fixing with restrictions and binding it to strict rules. Dutch football association KNVB is very happy with the adjustments planned for the gambling law, calling it a “profit for the sport”. The government submitted a legislative proposal to regulate online sports gambling last year. A majority of the Kamer is in favor of the plan, but suggested a number of requirements, NOS reports. Currently in the Netherlands, you can only legally gamble on sporting events via the Lotto, and then only on matches that are already in progress. Coalition parties VVD and PvdA wants gambling on sporting events to not be allowed if the aspects bet on are easy to manipulate, such as betting on a red card in a football match or a double fault in tennis – elements that can be influenced by one player. “These are game elements that are so easy to manipulate that we do not want to allow it”, VVD parliamentarian Jeroen van Wijngaarden explained to the broadcaster. The VVD and PvdA also want to ban betting on amateur and friendly matches during training camps abroad. According to the KNVB, players in these matches are more susceptible to bribery and match fixing as they get little to no compensation for playing these matches. The KNVB is very happy with these restrictions. “Limiting gambling opportunities in this way is a profit for the sport. The important thing is that not criminals, but players on the field, determine how the match plays out. And these proposals contribute to that”, said KNVB operational director Gijs de Jong in an reaction. “We are very supportive of these restrictions and we are pleased that these parties comply with our wishes.” The coalition parties consulted with the NOC*NSF and KNVB about these adjustments. The Tweede Kamer is expected to discuss the new gambling law next year.

Source: Janene Pieters, "Dutch restricting online sports gambling to block match fixing", 23 November 2015, NL Times, https://www.nltimes.nl/2015/11/23/dutch-restricting-online-sports-gambling-to-block-match-fixing/

ODDS AND ENDS

Netherlands

A new survey suggests the Netherlands online gambling market could be significantly larger than previous estimates. The survey, which was conducted by Motivaction on behalf of state-owned brick-and-mortar casino operator Holland Casino, suggests that as many as 1.5m Dutch adults gamble online, spending an average of €26 per month for a total annual spend of around €500m. Previous studies had suggested the market was worth closer to €300m per year. Motivaction said its survey numbers indicate that around 700k Dutch adults indulge in games like bingo, poker, roulette, blackjack or sports betting via online sites three times or less per year, while another 800k partake four times or more. Holland Casino suggested Motivaction’s numbers might actually undervalue the Dutch online market. The operator pointed to Denmark, which has a population one-third the size of the Netherlands, yet Danish online gambling revenue totaled €338m in just the first nine months of 2015. Extrapolating those numbers, Holland Casino suggests the Netherlands’ online market could be worth over €1b per year. The numbers are all the more impressive given that online gambling is currently illegal in the Netherlands. There’s no shortage of sites that continue to offer online services to Dutch punters in defiance of local authorities but the country’s new licensed online gambling regime isn’t expected to come into being until 2017. Dutch gaming regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) isn’t wasting this calm before the storm, announcing this week that it was one of 20 European Economic Area gaming regulators to sign an agreement promising greater cooperation in exchanging information regarding cross-border aspects of gambling. The parties have agreed to help each other guard against harms like fraud, match-fixing and money laundering, while also pledging to “reduce unnecessary administrative burdens.

Source: Steven Stradbrooke, "Survey: Dutch online gambling market worth a lot more than previous estimates", 27 November 2015, CalvinAyre, https://calvinayre.com/2015/11/27/business/dutch-online-gambling-market-revenue-estimates-increased/

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Singapore

A Singaporean man detained for more than two years under suspicion of being the mastermind behind a global football match-fixing syndicate is to be released after the court of appeal ruled he was being held unlawfully. Tan Seet Eng, known by the nickname Dan Tan, was jailed in October 2013 after Italian prosecutors accused him of coordinating a global crime syndicate that rigged Italian matches and other games across the world. He has denied wrongdoing. Tan was held under a Singaporean law that allows for indefinite detention without trial if it is in the interest of public safety. However, the judge, Sundaresh Menon, said that while Mr Tan’s alleged activities were “reprehensible and should not be condoned”, there was “nothing to suggest they could have a bearing on the public safety, peace and good order”. He added: “The matches fixed, whether or not successfully, all took place beyond our shores. There is nothing in the grounds to indicate [he] was working with overseas criminal syndicates or to suggest that such activities are likely to take root in Singapore, by reason of anything [he] has done or threatens to do.” Tan’s previous appeal had been dismissed by another Singapore court last year. One of Tan’s lawyers, Hamidul Haq, said that he had long argued Tan was being held on unlawful grounds. “It has been proven true today through the court judgment,” he said. “My client is very relieved.” Introduced in 1955, the Singaporean detention law has been used against suspected drug traffickers, illegal money-lenders and criminal gang members, especially in cases involving insufficient evidence for prosecution. Tan was arrested along with 13 others in September 2013 in a move that was hailed by Interpol as a major breakthrough in the battle against corruption in football. At the time, the Italian prosecutor Roberto Di Martino, who was leading an inquiry into match-fixing, referred to Tan as the “general director of the ring”. There has yet to be any trial into the allegations. Tan was suspected of being the mastermind behind fixed matches in Italy’s Serie A and Serie B in 2011. He is also being tried in absentia by a Hungarian court for allegedly manipulating 32 games in Hungary, Italy and Finland.

Source: AP, "Alleged match-fixing mastermind Dan Tan released from Singapore jail", 25 November 2015, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/nov/25/alleged-match-fixing-mastermind-dan-tan-released-jail

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