Prevention, detection and co-operation in match-fixing – Part 2

Published 09 July 2013 | Authored by: Jack Anderson

This second part of a three part blog is a review of an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security, Working Group Meeting on Preserving Sports Integrity and Combating Crime and Corruption in Sport held at Queensland Cricketers Club Brisbane on 5th June 2013.

It is based on Jack Anderson’s speaking notes with inserts, where relevant, of the excellent contributions of the other speakers. A more formal briefing paper on the workshop’s themes will be made available in due course by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security at www.ceps.edu.au.

 

Dedicated criminal law statutes: cheating at gambling

Again, the police delegates at the conference reiterated the point that specific cheating at gambling statutory provisions were extremely useful in the sense that previous investigations into such corrupt behaviour had to proceed on the unsatisfactory premise of charges based on analogous fraud, attempting to gain financial advantage through deception or generalised prevention of conspiracy to corrupt/bribe, which did not always fit the nature of the misconduct. The obvious example in NSW was the rather tortuous Ryan Tandy and others proceedings which followed a spot-fix during a rugby league game between North Queensland and Canterbury in Townsville in August, 2010 when a suspiciously large amount of money was bet on a penalty goal as the first scoring play. Tandy, who played for the Bulldogs in the match, facilitated the fix by deliberately conceding an early penalty. The recent aforementioned amendment to the NSW criminal code so as to include specific corruption in sport provisions is a direct result of lessons learned from Tandy.

In the R v Rogers case of 2007, it is noteworthy that the specific “cheating at gambling” provision of the UK Gambling Act 2005 (section 42) had not yet come into force. Further, an interesting discussion of the various UK provisions in this regard took place in the English Court of Appeal decision of R v Majeed & Westfield [2012] EWCA Crim 1186. In that case, Westfield was an employee of Essex County Cricket Club, and was charged with accepting or obtaining corrupt payments (about £6,000), contrary to s 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 (a section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005 was not pursued), for bowling in a match in 2009 in a way calculated and intended to allow the scoring of (about a dozen or so) runs off his first over of the match. He was convicted and sentenced to four months in jail. The stated appeal, which concerned an interpretation of the scope of the 1906 Act, was dismissed.

A team mate of Westfield, Danish Kaneria, had also been spoken to by the police but no criminal charges were pursued for lack of evidence. Nevertheless, in 2012, the English and Wales Cricket Board began disciplinary proceedings against Kaneria, and a disciplinary panel subsequently banned him for life from cricket as a grave danger to the integrity of the sport. The reasoned award by the panel gives a fascinating insight into this murky world of sports corruption. Kaneria subsequently appealed to an ECB Discipline Commission Appeals body in 2013, but his appeal was dismissed.

 

Sports Corruption: First Principles

The key patterns and vulnerabilities of the topic of sports corruption remain:

  1. The threat posed by spot fixing is particularly acute e.g., in the recent CAS award of CAS 2011/A/2364 Salman Butt v International Cricket Council at para 20 (dated 17 April 2013), the odds of the exact sequence of “no ball” events that Amir and Asif were asked to effect at the Lord’s Test between England and Pakistan in August 2010 were estimated (by the eminent cricket statistician Frank Duckworth) to be 512,000 to 1. The general point being that for the sake of three simple, apparently innocuous, plays, having no significant impact on the final outcome of the Test, the odds were hugely in favour of the fixers.
  2. It follows that episodic games, such as cricket, tennis and snooker and where an individual participant has significant control over certain plays, are particularly vulnerable to spot-fixing e.g., in CAS 2011/A/2621 David Savic v Professional Tennis Integrity Officers, Savic offered an opponent US$30,000 if that opponent would agree to lose the first set. Savic further offered to lose the remaining sets so that the opponent could win the match – note the players’ control here.
  3. Whatever about how a third party may use privileged information to manipulate an accompanying betting market, the core to this matter of sporting integrity is based on the simple premise of a participant (human or animal or a club) not performing on their merit. Recent examples from Australia and elsewhere illustrate that that “non-performance” may take many forms e.g.,
    1. “tanking” in order to manipulate the pecking order in a subsequent draft order e.g., the investigation by the AFL into the Melbourne Demon’s approach to the 2009 AFL season;
    2. not properly complying with mandatory reporting of medical conditions that might affect subsequent performance e.g., the More Joyous saga in Australian horse racing;
    3. where in a league situation a mid-table team who, as the season’s end approaches, can neither be relegated or promoted, or a team already relegated, become open to, well, bribes e.g., the deliberate own goal scored by a Bari player in May 2011 during an Italian Serie A game between Bari (already relegated) v Lecce (threatened by relegation) led to the arrest of the defender in question. Indeed, in that the most recent (of many) Italian football scandals, concerns were raised over the last four games of Bari’s 2010-11 league campaign – versus Palermo, Sampdoria, Lecce and Bologna – with the results of those matches having a direct effect on the relegation positions and qualification for Europe;
  4. The “non-performance” may be as a result of external pressures applied by agents or other influential third parties (note the role of Salaman Butt’s agent Mazhar Majeed and the aforementioned role of Danish Kaneria in English cricket) including local criminal figures who attempt to “image launder” through their association with sports figures.

This point on the vulnerability of players to outside pressures sparked one of the most interesting debates in the conference – and in particular was part of the presentation by Mr Shane Neilson, Head of Determination, High Risk and Emerging Drugs at the Australian Crime Commission; especially on how certain criminal elements (Hells Angels or bikie gangs etc) effectively “groom” young sports stars and more broadly how sports governing bodies have to be aware of the threat the third party ownership of players’ economic rights and third party influence through private equity in clubs might, if not properly administered, lend itself to a vulnerability to gambling fraud.

For a curious Canadian example of how Hells Angels gangs are involved in sports gambling see the Globe and Mail report on how police agencies from across Greater Toronto arrested 18 people in March 2013, associated with Platinum Sportsbook, a sports-betting website allegedly backed by the Hells Angels and other organized crime groups.

For an interesting example of the need to monitor private equity in clubs, note the Tampere FC affair in Finland from earlier in this decade:

  • The non-performance might also result from poor judgment by a participant with existing gambling addiction problems e.g. Pete Rose, US baseball; Michael Chopra a professional footballer in the UK; and note here the comments of former (AFL) Melbourne Demons vice-captain David Schwarz to the ABC at the beginning of this year’s AFL season;  
  • The non-performance might also be as a result of a professional player who, relatively speaking and compared to peers in a squad or internationally, is poorly paid;


This point was made, but not accepted at CAS, in the Salman Butt hearing i.e., Pakistan players were uniquely exposed and vulnerable to spot fixing because their earnings were lower than other international players; they were not permitted to play in the lucrative IPL due to political problems with India; and Pakistan could not host home Test games due to the 2009 terrorist attacks in Lahore.

See also the point (albeit in a different context) made in CAS 2011/A/2621 David Savic v Professional Tennis Integrity Officers at para 4.10 = the player’s 10 year career earnings were in around, a relatively paltry, US$86,000!!

See also CAS 2009/A/1920 Pobeda (upholding a life ban on a club president who was involved in an attempt to match-fix) where the Macedonian club in question was in financial difficulty = again vulnerable.

All of the above reinforces the importance of good governance and regulation in sport. A poor regulatory environment which ignores bad practices and tolerates conflicts of interest will breed corruption which in turn will be preyed upon by fixers. Indeed, one could say that all of the above can be summed up in four words = the Indian Premier League. It is of note that, at the time of writing, media coverage of the IPL is dominated, not by the sport, but by the associated corruption e.g., EPSNCricInfo; the Guardian etc

The matter of the IPL came up on numerous occasions and was discussed authoritatively by my CEPS colleague Dr Ashutosh Misra. Detective Inspector Jason Saunders of the Queensland Police Academy also referred to it and, in the context of good governance, highlighted the Australian Sports Commission’s Mandatory Sports Governance principles of 2013, an element of which is sports transparency, reporting and integrity.

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About the Author

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is Professor and Director of Sports Law Studies at the University of Melbourne. He has published widely in the area of sports law including The Legality of Boxing (2007),Textbook on Sports Law (2010), Leading Cases in Sports Law (2013) and EU Sports Law (2017). He is a Chartered Arbitrator and, having previously been an arbitrator with the GAA, FAI and Just Sport Ireland, he is currently a mediator/arbitrator for Sports Resolutions UK and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

He supports Doon, Limerick, Munster, Ireland and Watford FC and, yes, he looks like Paul Scholes.

@sportslawMELB 

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