In this week's media recap, there are several reports related to football. The match-fixing investigation in Belgium, and the sanction in Romania show that football is probably the most affected sport in terms of match-fixing activities, but it can also transpire that stakeholders managing football have higher awareness on the situation.
On the other hand, we can see good initiatives adopted in Brazil to keep referees away from match-fixing, as well as a good national policy in the UK for introducing new integrity charter in sports regulating bodies, which will definitely assist in maintaining the integrity in sport.
A Belgian top-flight match between KV Oostende vs Waasland-Beveren has been identified in a German TV documentary as showing signs of betting related match-fixing. The new revelations cast what is becoming a growing shadow over Belgium's Jupiler Pro League. Last week OH Leuven, another top-flight club, asked UEFA to investigate if there was potential match manipulation linked to gambling patterns in recent matches of the Leuven-based club. Belgian magazine Sport/Voetbalmagazine had revealed that OHL captain Romain Reynaud and goalkeeper Rudy Riou were implicated in betting on their own matches. UEFA will now also monitor OHL's upcoming matches for any possible irregularities. Yesterday German broadcasters ARD and WDR screened a documentary wherein suspicious gambling patterns involving the Belgian top-flight encounter between KV Oostende and Waasland-Beveren were highlighted. Betting shops in southern Germany registered big bets on the prediction of a match with three goals or more. On January 18 KV Oostende hosted Waasland-Beveren at its seaside stadium Albertpark. Oostende has been the revelation of the Belgian domestic season with the club, owned by billionaire businessman Marc Coucke, all but assured of a top six play-off spot. At the other end of the table, Beveren has mostly been involved in a relegation battle. After 17 seventeen minutes Siege Schrijvers had already scored twice with the hosts pulling back a goal through a strike from Joseph Akpala. The match would finish in a 3-all draw. On the same day suspicious gambling patterns were also identified in the Dutch top-flight Eredvisie match NEC Nijmegen vs Willem II. Unusually large amounts were bet on a victory for the hosts, and indeed NEC Nijmegen edged the game 1-0. The concerned betting company informed FIFA of the suspicious patterns. The governing body subsequently opened an investigation into the matter, according to the documentary.
The Belgian FA has denied having knowledge of any investigations.
Source: Samindra Kunti, "Match-fixing suspicions grow in Belgium as second game is identified", 3 March 2016, Inside world football, https://www.insideworldfootball.com/world-football/europe/18977-match-fixing-suspicions-grow-in-belgium-as-second-game-is-identified
With the aim of avoiding scandals of corruption related to referees, the PFF (Paulista Football Federation) adopted a new measure in its history, which has been valid since the first round of the Paulista football tournament. A compulsory declaration was created and presented to all referees who will be working in competitions organized by PFF. All of them had to sign a three-pages document and commit themselves with integrity rules.
Whoever disobey its guidelines might be punished in different ways and at worst can even be expelled from FPF referee´s board. The whole content of the document is confidential, but UOL Esporte had access to a part of it. In the document is written that referees must state that they do not have any private or commercial interest in the competition and they are requested to report if they don´t feel comfortable to arbitrate matches of some specific clubs.
“I affirm that I meet the requirements to be designated as a referee of matches from all competitions organized by FPF. Likewise, I affirm that there are no private or commercial interests that might damage those designations”, stated in the first article of the document.
The referees commit themselves to inform any threat they might suffer or bribery proposals they might receive. They also promise not to receive any gifts or not to get involved in football bets. In another article, they have to declare any kind of relationships with football agents or businesspersons. In addition, there is a manual of good practices they must follow. It means that they must keep a good and discreet behavior inside and outside the field, they are not allowed to insult players or coaches and they must respect the cultural diversity of all people involved in the matches. The document ends by stating clear that the possible punishments the referees might be condemned in case of disobeying the guidelines. The idea of the declaration came from FPF´s Integrity Committee and has similar guidelines to the FIFA´s Integrity Declaration.
Furthermore, it is important to say that all referees had a pre-season practice before starting their work in this Paulista tournament. The practice was in the city of Itu-Sao Paulo state and there is where they signed the declaration. Recently, the referee´s department had also a chance in its direction. Colonel Marcos Marinho left the unit and he is now in charge of FPF security only. Ednilson Corona, a former assistant, is provisionally leading the department now.
Source: Danilo Lavieri, "Preventing Preventing corruption among referees, Paulista Football Federation adopts new measure and launches a compulsory declaration", 29 February 2016, UOL Esporte, https://esporte.uol.com.br/futebol/campeonatos/paulista/ultimas-noticias/2016/02/23/contra-corrupcao-de-arbitros-fpf-toma-medida-inedita-e-elabora-cartilha.htm
The Government wants to create a new integrity charter for sports governing bodies when it holds its international anti-corruption summit in London in May. Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans for the summit in Singapore last July. Mr Cameron said he did not want the UK to become a ‘safe haven’ for corrupt money, while in Malta in November he called for ‘good governance and accountability, for example in sport’. Sportsmail understands the current corruption crisis in sport, from revelations about FIFA to the doping scandal in international athletics, has prompted Mr Cameron to extend the summit to engage with UK sports governing bodies like the FA, UK Athletics and British Cycling. Extensive discussions have already taken place between government officials and sports governing bodies. The intention, government sources have said, is to establish a charter for good practice.
Source: Matt Lawton, "Prime Minister David Cameron outlines plans for new integrity charter ahead of anti-corruption summit in London", 3 March 2016, Daily Mail, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-3475602/Prime-Minister-David-Cameron-outlines-plans-new-integrity-charter-ahead-anti-corruption-summit-London.html
ODDS AND ENDS
Football fans in Hong Kong won’t be able to bet on the Chinese Super League (CSL) it has been announced, as the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) declared that it will not take bets on the competition because it has doubts over the tournaments integrity. The Jockey Club said it wanted to “safeguard the interests” of its customers. The CSL has attracted the attention of football fans around the world due to the high profile, record breaking signings that some of the clubs have made in recent months, including Jackson Martinez, Alex Teixeira and Gervinho.
According to the South China Morning Post, a spokesman said: “During the match selection process, the club considers a number of important factors including information transparency, integrity and competitiveness of football matches etc., so as to safeguard the interests of the club and our customers. “At this stage, we do not have any plans to offer the Chinese Super League matches.” Chinese football has experienced corruption in the past, but as part of the deal Asian Football Confederation struck with Sportradar, all of Asia’s top leagues will be monitored for the first time this season in relation with match-fixing. Alex Inglot, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Sportradar, explained that the flow of money and the arrival of top players should not pose a threat to the league, stating “Most would argue that the more money you have to pay players, the less susceptible they are to match-fixing.”
Source: Edward Obeng, "Hong Kong Jockey Club refuses to take bets on Chinese Super League", 1 March 2016, Gambling insider, https://www.gamblinginsider.com/news/1844/hong-kong-jockey-club-refuses-to-take-best-on-chinese-super-league
The current leader of Romania’s top football league, Astra Giurgiu, has lost its coach just before the playoffs. Marius umudic, who has been managing the team since April 2015, has been suspended from all football-related activities for the next six months for betting on football matches. The Romanian Football Federation (FRF) also fined umudic RON 100,000 (some EUR 22,400), according to an official announcement made on February 29. The manager can appeal against this decision. However, should he lose the appeal, he won’t be able to coach his team during the playoffs. Marius umudic, a former striker, was accused of betting on football matches in the local first league (Liga I) as well as on other sports, which is against FRF’s regulations. umudic publicly admitted to owning 15% of a local bookmaker in the past, according to Agerpres. Astra Giurgiu, which is owned by jailed businessman Ioan Niculae, finished the regular season first in Liga I with 51 points, 3 points ahead of Dinamo Bucharest and 7 points ahead of reigning champions Steaua Bucharest.
Source: AP, "Romanian football league leader’s manager suspended for betting", 1 March 2016, Romania Insider, https://www.romania-insider.com/romanian-football-league-leaders-manager-suspended-for-betting/166055/
- Anti-Corruption Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Athletics Belgian FA Belgium Brazil Chinese Super League (CSL) Cycling FIFA FIFA´s Integrity Declaration Football FPF´s Integrity Committee Hong Kong Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Horseracing INTERPOL Match-Fixing Paulista Football Federation (PFF) Romania Romanian Football Federation (FRF) Sportradar United Kingdom (UK)