In this edition of the bi-weekly, we have a look at ongoing cases in Nigeria and Ghana, corruption reports in sports in South Korea, betting sanctions in snooker, and the outcome of investigations in the National Rugby League in Australia. Finally, the new quarterly report of sports betting integrity body ESSA is available as well.
Drug use, prostitution and insider information trading uncovered in NRL match-fixing probe (video)
Source: 27 October 2017, TVNZ
GFA Ethics Committee opens investigations into bribery, match fixing allegations
The Ghana football space has recently been rocked with allegations of match fixing. The Ethics Committee of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has opened investigations into allegations of match fixing, bribery and corruption in football in the country. A statement on the GFA’s website explains that: “the Ethics Committee has taken the decision to open the formal investigation in the wake of local media reports raising questions about the sanctity of the game in the country.” Ghana football has been rocked with allegations of match fixing in the weeks leading up to the end of the Ghana Premier League season with teams fighting to avoid relegation. “The Ethics Committee of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has opened a formal investigation into allegations of match fixing, bribery and corruption in football in the country. The Ethics Committee has taken the decision to open the formal investigation in the wake local media reports raising questions about the sanctity of the game in the country. The formal investigation will be swift and thorough as those in authority who have made public and private statements about the issue will be invited to assist in the investigation. Officials who have made general and specific corruption and match fixing allegations will be invited while accused individuals will also be invited. The media and the general public are highly encouraged to assist the Committee with valuable information even on the condition of anonymity. The Ethics Committee is actively seeking further information as no stone would be left unturned in the investigation.
Source 25 October 2017, GhanaWeb Football
Accused of Corruption on Multiple Continents, and Comfortably Defiant in Senegal
DAKAR, Senegal — Papa Massata Diack, a sports official accused of participating in one of biggest corruption schemes ever in global sports, is a familiar face at Senegal’s swankiest hotels. He was greeted by half a dozen people before he reached the back of the lobby of the Pullman Teranga last week. Wearing his usual white boubou, Diack, 52, settled into a corner table overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. His sister Awa carried a black backpack, which held a large file of documents that Diack had compiled to defend himself. The criminal accusations against Diack are so numerous and so varied that Diack suggested a plan for an interview: Awa would take notes and then, eventually, retrieve documents, including several news media reports, from the file that has been expanding as the accusations have grown. “This is the biggest lie in the world of sports,” said Diack, who is wanted by French law enforcement officials. “I can accept being accused, but they have never proven that I’m the ground zero of it.” The son of the former head of track and field’s world governing body, Diack is at the center of an ever-widening corruption inquiry that reaches across four continents. Prosecutors say he has spent years behind the scenes, greasing hands in the shadowy intersection of sports, politics and business. They claim he was involved in a scheme to cover up failed doping tests and was the conduit for vote-buying in competitions to host major sporting events, including the Olympics. Millions of dollars in illicit payments have been transferred through accounts controlled by Diack or his associates, according to prosecutors in Brazil and France, which in January 2016 issued an international arrest warrant for him. His father, Lamine Diack, one of the most powerful men in sports during his 16-year reign as the head of the International Association of Athletics Federations, known as I.A.A.F., has been detained in France since November 2015 over allegations that he accepted bribes for covering up doping violations for Russian athletes. Most recently, connections to the Diacks led to the arrest of Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the head of Brazil’s Olympic committee, amid suspicions that Rio de Janeiro’s successful bid to stage the 2016 Summer Games was helped by a $2 million payment to the younger Diack, acting as an intermediary for his father, who could be relied upon to secure the votes of the other African members of the International Olympic Committee. Over nearly three hours at the Pullman Teranga, Diack described all the accusations as being born of racism and jealousy, part of an Anglo-Saxon conspiracy to tarnish the legacy of his father. He also said he believed the case was part of a power game between the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee. “Saying Lamine Diack and his son were racketing in athletes, after 22 months of investigation, where are the proofs?” Diack said. “Just press articles. If they had evidence, they would have gone to court. “It’s a problem for a black man, an African person, to be so successful after 16 years of stewardship of the I.A.A.F.” The evidence against Diack includes cash transfers and emails revealed in Brazil after authorities there accused officials of paying Diack and others to secure votes to host the 2016 Rio Olympics. French financial crimes investigators traced payments of $2 million from a Brazilian businessman to bank accounts controlled by Diack around the time Rio was picked to host the Olympics. On the same day as the vote, Diack transferred about $300,000 to Frankie Fredericks, a former sprinter from Namibia and rising star of the Olympic movement who happened to be one of three people scrutinizing the vote. Diack called it an unfortunate coincidence. The Brazilians were paying to sponsor a new relay event being created for the I.A.A.F., and Diack was a marketing consultant for the organization. That claim contrasts with those of Maria Celeste Pedrosa, Nuzman’s secretary. In a deposition given to investigators in Rio, Pedrosa said the money was supposedly to pay for the construction of tracks in Africa and questioned why it had to be paid to a Diack-controlled bank account in Russia. The payment to Fredericks was related to a debt owed for doing promotional work for track and field sponsors, Diack said. An inquiry into Fredericks’s conduct is continuing. The relay event the Brazilians were supposedly sponsoring never took place there. “Papa Diack said it, record it, state it: Lamine Diack and Frankie Fredericks voted for Tokyo,” said Diack, declaring that his father had preferred Tokyo’s pitch for the 2016 Summer Games over Rio’s. Rio ended up beating Madrid in a final runoff. “Whoever says the contrary is lying, and I’m ready to be challenged by my father.” Prosecutors have also identified myriad other payments they say are linked to the corruption scheme, including large transfers to jewelry stores in Paris and Qatar. The allegations are purely circumstantial, Diack said, and can be refuted by documents and contracts he has. Asked to reveal them, he said: “My friend, that I will give to a prosecutor. I will not give it to a journalist.” Investigators claim that Diack and his accomplices were so brazen in their pursuit of corrupt money that one of his associates operated a company called Black Tidings, which, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation, means “Black Marketing or to Launder Black Money” in Hindi. That account is linked to an extortion scheme in which mainly Russian athletes were directed to pay thousands of dollars in return for their failed doping tests to be covered up. Diack emphatically denied any involvement in that case. “Dirty money, or money of corruption, is kept in offshore accounts, or is given cash,” he said. “Do you think I’m stupid enough to get corruption money into my official company accounts?” Here in Dakar, the family’s reputation appears to be undamaged by the scandal. The Diacks are frequently described as an important family. Lamine Diack was once mayor of Dakar, and was minister of sport before turning his attention to running track and field. “Everyone knows them,” said Mbaye Diasse, a craftsman working amid the dust of Marché Sandaga, one of Dakar’s main markets, on a searingly hot afternoon recently. “They give a lot of money to the poor.” Diack has amassed millions of dollars through his sports connections. He said one of the transfers to Qatar that was identified by investigators was not for jewelry but rather to buy a new Range Rover sport utility vehicle that he had shipped back home. The scandal has not kept him from continuing his business activities and securing contracts for his company, Pamodzi Sports Marketing, an entity that has been linked to several of the arrangements that prosecutors described as bribery. Diack is now focusing his attention on global soccer, an industry far more lucrative than track and field, and one that has led to trouble in the past. He was briefly jailed after allegations that thousands of dollars of sponsorship money for the Senegal men’s national soccer team had gone missing. Diack said he spent nine days in prison before being cleared of wrongdoing. Diack’s jet-setting life in the corridors of international sports also led bidders involved in the now-tainted competition to host the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cups to seek his assistance. Diack smiled and chuckled before declining to answer whom he may have worked for during the process that ended with Russia and Qatar securing hosting rights. “I advise a lot of countries in sports,” he said. Diack said he had made about $14 million in commissions during his time as a consultant for the I.A.A.F., and even more from soccer. “There isn’t a more experienced sports marketing executive in Africa than me,” Diack said. “Wealth has never been my problem.” Before he was forced to stay in Senegal — he handed over his two passports, including a diplomatic one, to local authorities — Diack spent 250 days a year on the road, he said, working on deals and advising clients. Senegal is continuing to resist the request from France to extradite Diack. Last year the Senegalese prime minister said the country would “never surrender a son.” The case could drag on for years. At his most emphatic, Diack leaned in close and grabbed an arm of the person he was talking to. “They are lying,” he said. His accusers, he added, will be embarrassed. So why not go to France and clear it all up? “Like my dad, so I can be detained for two years?” he said. “You want me to come to France and while we are investigating, you stay, and we take your passport. Are you responsible for that? Are you going to take care of my family, are you going to pay for their bills? “This case will never be prosecuted in France. I will never be prosecuted in France.”
Source: 17 October 2017, New York Times
Match-fixing: Lalong appeals to NFF to lift Plateau United Feeders Team’s 10-year ban
Simon Lalong of Plateau on Thursday in Jos appealed to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to lift the 10-year ban placed on Plateau United FC Feeder Team for match-fixing. Lalong, who was represented by the state’s Commissioner for Sports, Danladi Mann, made the appeal at the opening ceremony of NFF’s 2017 Annual General Assembly (AGA). It would be recalled that NFF had in 2013 imposed a 10-year ban on four clubs and a life ban on some players. The clubs and players were involved in amateur league play-off matches which ended in scandalous scorelines of 79-0 and 67-0. Plateau United Feeders and Police Machine FC went into their matches level on points, with promotion to the lowest tier of the Nigeria Nation Wide League (NNWL) at stake. With both games being played at the same time, Plateau United Feeders scored 72 of their goals in the second half to beat Akurba FC 79-0. On their part, Police Machine put 61 goals past Bubayero FC after half-time in their 67-0 victory. Lalong, in his appeal, said the clubs after the four years of serving the ban have felt the necessary remorse and regret. “We appeal to NFF to kindly lift the ban on Plateau United Feeders and the three other clubs,” he had said in his address at the NFF 2017 AGA’s opening ceremony. NFF President Amaju Pinnick, while responding, said the Federation would look into matter. He said the NFF committee saddled with handling such matters would critically look into the appeal and make recommendations. “The committee will determine whether the ban will be lifted or not,” Pinnick said.
Source 19 October 2017, Vanguard Nigeria Football
Snooker Player Stuart Bingham Banned for Betting
Stuart Bingham has been handed a six month ban, three of which are suspended, following a long investigation into his betting on the sport. Bingham allegedly placed bets using an account in his manager’s name. Photo credit: Monique Limbos The 2015 world champion, who also has to fork out £20,000 to cover the costs incurred by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, has been given until November 6th to appeal the decision. If the ban is upheld, Bingham will miss a significant and important chunk of the season, which most notably includes the UK Championship in York and the prestigious Masters at the Alexandra Palace in London. Bingham joins a now increasingly growing list of players who have been caught up in betting scandals. It first became clear that the Englishman had something to answer for when the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee announced on March 15th of this year that it would chair an investigation. Several months after an initial hearing was held in July, in which Bingham was questioned over his betting history, a second tribunal was held on October 11th in order to determine a sanction after he was found guilty of placing bets over at least a seven year period – including bets on his own matches. The 42 year-old’s suspension will come into effect on the October 28th, meaning he’ll also miss next week’s International Championship and a string of other lucrative ranking events. WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “It is very disappointing to see such a high profile player fall foul of the WPBSA Betting Rules.” “Stuart is a great competitor and I have no doubt he has always played to the best of his ability. This case shows that there are no exceptions to the rules. “Players must understand that they cannot bet on snooker at all, even if they are not involved in a match or event. “Any player found to breach of the betting rules will face the most serious of consequences.” Fans, media, and fellow players have already been quick to state their opinion on social media, with recent English Open champion Ronnie O’Sullivan questioning the length of the ban in comparison to some of the other high-profile outcomes in the past. The “Rocket” said on Twitter: “I think he’s had a result…steve lee got 12 years for the same thing. No consistency.” While there is definitely an argument to be made that the bans handed out for all betting and match-fixing cases do come across as somewhat random, it’s worth pointing out that there isn’t a question on whether Bingham tried to influence the outcome of any of his own matches. In truth, though, it’s unlikely that Bingham, who famously is nicknamed “Ballrun” for the luck he is supposed to enjoy on the table, will get much sympathy. It’s hard to argue with that as, whether it’s a case of being naive or just acting with stupidity, all the players should know better than to get involved with a poisoned chalice that is betting on snooker. There have been numerous cases down the years that have come into the public eye, providing enough warning signs to suggest that this possibly isn’t the best practice to be undertaking. Even after the dust settles, Bingham’s legacy will undoubtedly be tarnished and, after carving out a particularly impressive career in his latter years, that’s ultimately very disappointing.
Source 24 October 2017, Snooker HQ Snooker
Hearts official arrested over match-fixing allegation
Joshua Acquah, the protocol officer of Hearts of Oak was arrested by the Nima Police for allegedly aiding betting companies. Acquah has been receiving referees assigned to officiate Hearts of Oak home games on behalf of the Accra giants. But, Aziz Haruna Futah, a former member of the club’s management committee accused the protocol officer on Asempa Fm that the former has been conniving with match officials and some betting companies to influence the outcome of games. According to Starrfmonline.com Joshua Acquah was apprehended by the Nima Police for questioning on Thursday, but was released on Friday. The reports further state that Acquah after his arrest tendered in his resignation as the protocol officer of Hearts of Oak.
Source Thomas Freeman Yeboah, 19 October 2017, Pulse
ESSA reports 72 suspicious betting alerts during Q3 2017
International sports betting integrity body ESSA reported 72 cases of suspicious betting to the relevant authorities during the third quarter (Q3) of 2017. This was made up of 46 cases in tennis, followed by football and table tennis with 8 cases each, basketball with four and two cases each for badminton, snooker and volleyball. A total of 152 cases of suspicious betting have been identified and reported by ESSA and its members during the first three quarters of 2017.
Source 30 October 2017, ESSA
Player reports match-fixing approach to Pakistan Cricket Board
A Pakistan player has reported an approach by a match-fixer, according to the Pakistan Cricket Board. PCB chairman Najam Sethi said the approach was "immediately reported to the PCB", which informed the International Cricket Council (ICC). Reports in Pakistan claimed captain Sarfraz Ahmed was approached before the third one-day international against Sri Lanka in Adu Dhabi on Wednesday. Bans for failing to report an approach range from six months to life. Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Irfan was banned for a year by the ICC in March for twice failing to report approaches by bookmakers linked to spot-fixing. Pakistan won the third ODI by seven wickets to complete a series victory with two matches to spare.
Source 21 October 2017, BBC Sports Cricket
ODDS AND ENDS
Taekwondo has most corruption complaints among Korean sports: lawmaker
Taekwondo has generated the most corruption complaints among South Korean sports, a local lawmaker said Wednesday. According to Rep. Kwak Sang-do of the Liberty Korea Party, 742 corruption cases were reported to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's center for sports corruption between 2014 and August 2017. The ministry's data showed the center completed investigations into 559 cases and 122 of them were transferred to law enforcement authorities or processed with disciplinary actions. The most complaints were reported in taekwondo with 106 cases, followed by baseball with 71, and football with 63. The ministry data showed that winter sports were also not free from corruption: 22 complaints were filed in ice skating, followed by ice hockey with 15, skiing with 10 and bobsleigh with four complaints. South Korea's first ever Winter Olympic Games is just four months away. By year, 274 complaints were filed in 2014, followed by 195 in 2015 and 209 in 2016. This year, 62 corruption cases were reported to the center in the first eight months. The data also showed 248 cases were about privatizing an organization's administration and 87 cases related to match-fixing activities, such as making biased calls. Thirty cases were about violence and 21 cases were about school admissions. The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee, South Korea's top sports body, was criticized recently after it amended its code to allow for commuting of the sentences of officials convicted of any of four major offenses -- embezzlement or breach of duty, school admission corruption related to sports, violent or sexual assault, or match-fixing. Following the revision, 24 officials applied for a pardon and five of them saw their lifetime bans reduced to reprimands or five-year suspension. "Sports corruption occurs every year and people call for it to be corrected, but the government is taking a step backwards," Kwak said. "We must end this vicious cycle and live up to people's belief that sports should be fair and clean." (Yonhap)
Source 18 October 2017, The Korea Herald
Manly great Brett Stewart wins defamation case over match-fixing article
Manly great Brett Stewart has won his defamation case against News Limited over an article that claimed the former fullback was linked to match-fixing during the 2015 NRL season. Police opened an investigation in 2016 about allegations Sea Eagles were given secret payments of $50,000 for fixtures against South Sydney and Parramatta where players were suspected of match- fixing. No charges were laid down and all players were cleared. Stewart was tied to a Daily Telegraph article in 2016 that suggested the former Manly star spoke to coach Trent Barrett about moving to France after the match-fixing claims reportedly were affecting his on-field performances. The piece was only online for a few hours but managed to find its way on Sea Eagles fan forums. Stewart said in statement lodged to the NSW Supreme Court that the comments "gravely injured ... his character, reputation and occupation as a professional football player". He previously won a defamation payout against the company over a 2009 article involving an alleged sexual assault on a 17-year-old girl.
Source 17 October 2017, Sporting News Rugby
INTEGRITY IN SPORT EVENTS
INTERPOL - IOC Law Enforcement Training and Partnership Development 6 - 8 November 2017
INTERPOL and IOC will organise a two-day Law Enforcement Training for the Queensland Police, followed by a Partnership Development Meeting in view of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Australia.
Competition manipulation focus of joint INTERPOL and IOC training in West Africa
DAKAR, Senegal - A series of workshops on competition manipulation has been held in West Africa by INTERPOL and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The first event, a Regional Integrity in Sport Workshop (25 October), brought together more than 50 representatives from law enforcement, government, betting entities and sports organizations from Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal in order to help address the criminal challenges posed by competition manipulation and other threats to the integrity of sport. Training was provided by INTERPOL, the IOC and the Française des Jeux (FDJ). The event was attended by the President of Senegal's National Olympic Committee, Mamadou D. Ndiaye, as well as by the country's former President of the Ethics Commission of the IOC, Youssoupha Ndiaye and Seydina Bocar Yague, Director General of Senegal’s Judicial Police. Opening the event, Mr Yague pointed to the importance of creating synergy between all stakeholders. “The term ‘integrity in sport’ should not be used in vain. Match-fixing is an ever-present, global challenge. With major amounts of money in play via both legal and illegal betting, we must recognize that no organization can tackle this issue alone.” Paul Stanfield, Director for Organized and Emerging Crime at INTERPOL's General Secretariat headquarters, said: "Crimes in sport cross international borders and generate huge profits which are then channelled into other illegal activities. Underpinned by our partnership with the IOC, a coordinated prevention strategy for protecting sports from competition manipulation is vital, and must involve a wide range of stakeholders on national, regional and global levels." Following the regional workshop, partnership development meetings were organized on 26 October for representatives from the five participating countries. These meetings foster collaboration and a coordinated approach between high level representatives from law enforcement, various sporting bodies, justice, betting industry and other actors involved in preventing the infiltration of crime into sport. They also assist countries in setting up concrete strategies and national, regional and international cooperation mechanisms required for the prevention and investigation of competition manipulation. INTERPOL and the IOC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in January 2014. Since then, the two organizations have widened the scope of their joint activities, including close collaboration during the Olympic Games and capacity building around the world through a joint Global Integrity in Sport Capacity Building Programme.