Integrity in Sport Update: FIFA Exec-Committee member warns of match-fixing dangers in amateur football
In Malta, a police commissioner said he will look into a proposal by the Malta FA (MFA) for the setting up of an Anti-Corruption and Transparency Task Force to tackle football corruption. The proposed task force would include members from the police, the MFA and the Malta Gaming Authority.
Meanwhile in Singapore, former Malaysian footballer Thana Segar S Sinnaniah pleaded guilty to match-fixing and absconding. He reportedly aided a meet-up between a Football Association of Malaysia part-time referee Shokri Nor and Singaporean Selvarajan Letchuman to fix a Malaysian Super League match.
Police say 11 people are new suspects in a 2013 bribery case involving low-level leagues in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In a statement on Tuesday, police say they are all suspected of paying and accepting bribes, and one of them also of money laundering. Investigators say they believe the bribes of up to several hundred thousand koruna were offered to players to fix 10 matches spread over the Czech second- and third-tier leagues and a youth competition, from May to August 2013. Police say some players accepted the bribes while others rejected them. As a result of the police investigation, the Czech and Slovak football federations have banned seven players from five to 25 years.
Source: "11 new suspects in 2013 Czech football match-fixing case", 20 January 2015, AP, https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/soccer/2015/01/20/11-new-suspects-in-2013-czech-football-match-fixing-case/22036661/
The national sports association Dansk Idrætsforbund (DIF) is looking into yet another possible match-fixing case in Danish football's third tier. According to Politiken newspaper, the betting patterns in two games that included the third tier club Varde are suspicious because bets in the range of 55,000 kroner were placed on the matches in a very small geographic area. The two games in question took place in the summer of 2013. On June 8, Varde needed to win at home over Ringkøbing in order to stay up, but lost 1-4, while they lost 0-6 away at Middelfart six days later. They ended up finishing last in the division and were relegated. According to Politiken, two Varde players and a person not connected to football placed a large five-figure bet on the two Varde defeats. The three in question have all rejected the claims.
Last week, the culture minister Marianne Jelved revealed that she intended to criminalise match-fixing, a move that DIF praised.
Source: "Another match-fixing case being investigated", 21 January 2015, Copenhagen Post, https://cphpost.dk/news/another-match-fixing-case-being-investigated.12315.html
The world football governing body, FIFA has for the meantime cleared former Sierra Leone national team captain Ibrahim 'Obreh' Kargbo of all match-fixing allegations due to insufficient evidence. Dutch media, Brabants Dagblad quoted FIFA as saying that they haven't got sufficient evidence at present to suspend the midfielder from playing football in all countries. Kargbo was left out of Atlético Club de Portugal's last weekend league match win against Olhanense after a Dutch news outlet, De Volkskrant, reported that the player was the main suspect in match manipulation in two of Willem II Eredivisie clashes against Ajax and Feyenoord during the 2009/10 league season. The Portuguese Segunda (the second tier) league player had denied all the allegations, claiming his slate was clean; and the latest news from FIFA will now allow him to possibly feature for Atlético Club in their home match against Freamunde.
Source: Sahr Morris Jr, "Sierra Leone: FIFA Clears 'Obreh' of Match-Fixing Allegations", 23 January 2015, Concord Times, https://allafrica.com/stories/201501231800.html
A former Malaysian footballer who fled Singapore in 2012 while on bail after being charged with attempting to rig a football game pleaded guilty today. Ex-Kedah striker Thana Segar S Sinnaniah, who was re-arrested in August 2014, admitted to four charges, including three for abetting in a plot to fix the result of a match in May 2012. Thana Segar had reportedly aided a meet-up between a Football Association of Malaysia part-time referee Shokri Nor and Singaporean Selvarajan Letchuman at a hotel room in Penang. Shokri was offered a RM15,000 bribe to fix the result of the Malaysian Super League tie between Lions XII and Sarawak. On the day of the match, Selvarajan placed six bets in Lions XII’s favour with Singapore Pools. Thana Segar was thus charged for dishonestly concealing the hatched plan to induce Singapore Pools to deliver an expected payout of S$15,500 (RM41,524), part of which was intended to be paid to Thana Segar and Shokri. All three were arrested before the match kicked off.
Source: "Ex-Malaysian footballer on the run pleads guilty to match fixing and absconding", 19 January 2015, The Malay Mail Online, https://www.themalaymailonline.com/sports/article/ex-malaysian-footballer-on-the-run-pleads-guilty-to-match-fixing-absconding#sthash.qrGtu3gQ.dpuf
A new online gambling payment portal is being established in Russia which will make it impossible for players to fund accounts with illegal operators. At the end of 2013, Russian authorities introduced tough new penalties for those organising or engaged in illegal gambling. Any form of gambling is illegal outside of four (soon to be six) designated areas in Russia, although a new regulated sports betting market will be in place by the summer. The regulated market will require that operators are licensed in order to eliminate fraud and protect players´ funds. Licensed operators will be required to deposit 30 million roubles ($460,000) in a safety fund and undergo regular licensing compliance checks. To protect the interests of the licensed operators – and to eliminate illegal gambling in Russia – measures are being put in place to channel payments to licensed operators through an exclusive online portal, with payments to and from all other illegal operations being blocked by Russia´s digital watchdogs.
Source: Alan Graham, "Russians to Block Online Gambling Payment Processors", 23 January 2015, Poker News Report, https://www.pokernewsreport.com/russians-to-block-online-gambling-payment-processors-17655
Rangers goalkeeper Steve Simonsen has been charged by the Scottish Football Association with breaching strict gambling rules. Hampden chiefs claim the 35-year-old Englishman placed 18 bets last season and another 37 this term. SFA Disciplinary Rule 33 prohibits players, coaches, club officials and referees in Scotland from betting on football anywhere in the world. The governing body's first charge states that the former Everton and Dundee stopper placed 18 bets between January 15 and June 22 last year. A second rap accuses Simonsen, 35, of then gambling on 37 matches which took place between September 6 and January 13. The SFA insist there is no suggestion the Ibrox player was involved in any of the matches he is accused of betting on.
Source: "Rangers goalkeeper Steve Simonsen charged with gambling breach", 23 January 2015, Herald, https://www.herald.ie/sport/soccer/rangers-goalkeeper-steve-simonsen-charged-with-gambling-breach-30929821.html
ODDS AND ENDS
Leading bookmakers have reportedly reduced maximum bet limits for the Asian Cup amid concerns some matches could be rigged, as claims surface that two of the participating countries played in a suspicious fixture as recently as November. An international friendly between Qatar and North Korea on November 7 last year is allegedly the most recent match to raise the eyebrows of corruption investigators. Four goals were scored in the second half of the match, which was won 3-1 by home side Qatar. Both sides were knocked out after the group stage of the Asian Cup, having lost all three matches.
Source: Nino Bucci, "Asian Cup betting limits placed after match-fixing fears", 23 January 2015, Sydney Morning Herald, https://www.smh.com.au/national/asian-cup-betting-limits-placed-after-matchfixing-fears-20150122-12w2fz.html
A report titled The Odds of Match Fixing – Facts & figures on the integrity risks of certain sports bets by Professor Dr Ben Van Rompuy of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre draws a number of conclusions that blow away some of the myths around conventionally held thinking on match-fixing. Top of the list are his findings that betting-related match-fixing is predominantly focused on the final outcome of a match and in particular to the number of goals (winning margin). He finds that there is no empirical support for the belief that 'side bets' (betting on the number of corners or free kicks – more commonly known as spot fixing) are "significant match-fixing risks, nor that live betting poses a specific or greater match fixing risk in comparison to traditional pre-match betting." His findings have implications for policy makers and raise questions over the appropriateness of regulating the types of sports bets bookmakers can offer as an anti-match fixing package of measures.
Source: Paul Nicholson, "New report dispels betting pattern myths in the murky world of match-fixing ", 23 January 2015, Inside World Football, https://www.insideworldfootball.com/world-football/42-news/16254-new-report-dispels-betting-pattern-myths-in-the-murky-world-of-match-fixing
Fifa Executive Committee member and former DFB president,Theo Zwanziger has warned against the dangers of match-fixing in football and believes the problem is as widespread as doping is in other sports. Interpol revealed in September 2014 that between 60 and 80 countries had reported allegations of match-fixing for each of the three previous years and Zwanziger outlined the difficult battle against cheating ahead: "A player who earns good money in the Bundesliga will not influence the result of a game for €5000, but the real danger is in amateur football. What can we do about it when illegal bookies allow people to place bets on games in the fifth tier? Football is quite vulnerable in that area." John Abbott, who is leading the Interpol-Fifa initiative set up to fight the crime, previously stressed that match-fixing has become a global issue over the past few years, with criminal gangs across the world cashing in on the game.
Source: Stefan Coerts, "Match-fixing in football like doping is to other sports, says Zwanziger", 19 January 2015, Goal, https://www.goal.com/en-india/news/3753/germany/2015/01/19/8101582/match-fixing-in-football-like-doping-is-to-other-sports-says
Police Commissioner Michael Cassar will look into a proposal by the Malta FA for the setting up of an Anti-Corruption and Transparency Task Force to tackle football corruption. The task force as proposed will include members from the police, the MFA and the Malta Gaming Authority. A MFA report published earlier this month paints a damning picture of the state of corruption in Maltese football. MFA Integrity Officer Franz Tabone’s report claims that some football clubs allegedly finance their entire operations through elaborate betting scams and match-fixing.
Speaking on the TV programme ‘Replay’ earlier this week, MFA secretary Bjorn Vassallo revealed that a whopping average of €70 million is placed in legal bets per season of Maltese football – €50 million on Premier League games and €20 million on First Division games.
Source: Tim Diacono, "An MFA report published earlier this month paints a damning picture of the state of corruption in Maltese football. ", 22 January 2015, Malta Today, https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/sports/football/48686/police_commissioner_could_toughen_battle_against_football_corruption#.VMXaaCxJeJ_
Peru and Paraguay
Following the suspicious match between the Paraguay and Peru under 20 teams, both coaches denied that the match was fixed. Victor Genes and Victor Rivera dismissed the allegations regarding an arrangement between both countries to end the match with a draw. The result allowed both teams to qualify while Ecuador was eliminated.
Source: "Tras el sospechoso empate, los técnicos de Paraguay y Perú niegan el arreglo", 23 January 2015, La Nacion, https://canchallena.lanacion.com.ar/1762479-tras-el-sospechoso-empate-los-tecnicos-de-paraguay-y-peru-niegan-el-arreglo
- Anti-Corruption Asian Cup Betting & Gaming Bundesliga Czech Republic Dansk Idrætsforbund (DIF) Denmark FIFA FIFA Executive Committee Football Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) INTERPOL Malta Malta FA Council Malta Gaming Authority Match-Fixing Paraguay Peru Portuguese Segunda Russia Scottish Football Association Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia United Kingdom (UK)