This has been a busy week in the media for corruption in football but match-fixing has also been prominent.
Singapore charged four men for attempting to fix a South-East Asian Games football match last week, prior to the match. Whilst in Malta there was a call in Parliament for tougher sanctions for match-fixing. Dr. Azzopardi said he believed that those caught participating in match-fixing should face an effective prison-term while calling for harsher penalties for such criminals. At this point, Dr. Azzopardi saluted Franz Tabone – MFA’s integrity officer – for his ongoing fight against this plague which is linked to organised crime.
While the international football scandal surrounding Fifa and the arrest of its senior officials on corruption charges has shocked the sporting world, the parallel one engulfing Greece yet again seems to be at the forefront of global examples. For it expanded last week as six more Greek players were charged in connection with match-fixing and fraud, bringing the total number of those charged, including managers and referees, to 41.
Today, the millionaire owner of Greek champions and cup-holders Olympiakos turned up at the prosecutor's office to ask for details of growing evidence tabled against him, and to provide preliminary answers to five criminal charges. On the same day, the vice-president of the Central Refereeing Committee resigned following allegations against him for involvement in match fixing. Both men have categorically denied the allegations.
All six players facing preliminary charges are from lowly first division club Veroia. They are alleged to have complied with a secret deal in January 2013 between the owners of Veroia and Greek champions Olympiacos, whereby the game would end in a 3-0 win for Olympiacos. The club owners allegedly bet on this score and won half a million euros each.
Source: Paul Anastasi, "Greece charges 41 over match-fixing as football scandal deepens", 27 May 2015, Newsweek, https://europe.newsweek.com/greece-charges-41-over-match-fixing-football-scandal-deepens-327763
Korea (Rep. of)
Police said Tuesday they're investigating an active professional basketball coach over match-fixing allegations.
Seoul police said the coach, whose identity is being withheld, allegedly bet against his own team in the Korean Basketball League (KBL) and inserted bench players in the second half to ensure the team would lose.
Police added that they've detained two acquaintances of the coach's for allegedly making illegal wagers on KBL games for the coach. Police believe the coach borrowed 300 million won (US$273,000) from a loan shark to bet on games. They are also trying to track down two other friends of the coach's who helped him borrow the money.
Source: AP, "Police investigating basketball coach over match-fixing allegations", 26 May 2015, Global post, https://www.globalpost.com/article/6560205/2015/05/25/police-investigating-basketball-coach-over-match-fixing-allegations
Latvian police say they have identified eight suspects in a match-fixing investigation into an Aberdeen FC game.
FK Daugava Riga, who folded this year, were accused of rigging both legs, which saw the Dons win 8-0 on aggregate in their first round Europa League tie last summer.
Two reports complied by anti-corruption agency FederBet sparked a UEFA probe into the conduct of the Baltic side. The allegations do not involve Aberdeen in any way.
Two men, who were arrested accused of match-fixing, tax evasion and serious fraud have now been released. A spokesman for the State Police of Latvia said: “We have eight suspects. Two of them were arrested for a few months but now the court has released them under police parole. A lot of work has already been done, but there’s still a lot to do. We have made several requests for mutual legal assistance to other countries.”
Source: Jon Hebditch, "Eight suspects in Dons match fixing probe", 26 May 2015, Press and journal, https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/591147/eight-suspects-dons-match-fixing-probe/
Singapore charged four men for attempting to fix a Southeast Asian Games football match yesterday. The men were accused of plotting to arrange for players of the Federacao Futebol Timor-Leste to lose their match against Malaysia, according to charge sheets filed in a Singapore state court yesterday.
The men — one Singaporean, two Timor-Leste nationals and an Indonesian — allegedly agreed to corruptly give or receive S$15,000 (RM40,716) in bribes.
If convicted, the men may be jailed for as long as five years and fined as much as S$100,000. Singapore is hosting the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, with the football tournament kicking off Friday.
Source: AP, "Singapore charges four men over Malaysia v Timor Leste match-fixing ", 31 May 2015, The malaymail on line, https://www.themalaymailonline.com/sports/article/singapore-charges-four-men-over-malaysia-v-timor-leste-match-fixing-scandal
Ipswich's teenage midfielder Teddy Bishop has been charged with breaching Football Association rules in relation to betting. The 18-year-old, who came through the academy system at Portman Road, faces a charge of committing 'alleged multiple breaches' of the guidelines.
Bishop has until June 1 to respond to the charge, the FA said on its website.
Source: AP, "Ipswich midfielder Teddy Bishop charged by the FA after breaching betting rules", 26 May 2015, The dailymail, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3098000/Ipswich-midfielder-Teddy-Bishop-charged-FA-breaching-betting-rules.html
PN MP Jason Azzopardi today emphasised in parliament on the importance of combating match-fixing, pointing out that the MFA’s task force he proudly forms part of on behalf of the Opposition has one aim: “to rid football of match-fixing".
He quoted the words said by Italy's President Sergio Mattarella during a commemoration event in memory of the late prosecuting magistrate Giovanni Falcone: ‘Gangs of various kinds try to change the outcome of matches and make money from betting - which is a shame - and which should be eradicated. We cannot accept that the beauty of the sport is altered’.
Dr Azzopardi said he believed that those caught participating in match-fixing should face an effective prison-term while calling for harsher penalties for such criminals.
Source: Duncan Barry, "PN MP says those caught participating in match-fixing should face harsher penalties", 27 May 2015, The indipendent, https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2015-05-27/local-news/PN-MP-says-those-caught-participating-in-match-fixing-should-face-harsher-penalties-
The spectre of illegal betting and match-fixing marred the build-up to the Premier League relegation/promotion play-off between Mosta and Division One side Gira United, it has emerged.
The Malta FA yesterday revealed that they had adopted a series of precautionary measures to minimise the threat of match-rigging and illegal gambling ahead of the decider, played at the NationalStadium on May 15, after the two clubs involved had raised suspicions that their players were being offered money to throw the game.
“For the sake of correctness, the Malta FA informs that, in the case of the play-off between Mosta and Gira United, in the days preceding the game, officials from both clubs approached the MFA Integrity Officer to inform him that they had a suspicion that their players were being offered sums of money to lose the game,” the Malta FA said in a statement.
“However, these declarations stemmed from suspicions that were not based on facts and no proof was produced at any time. Thereafter, the president of Gira United asked the Malta FA to check whether it could intervene to prevent that bets are placed on this game."
“The MFA spoke to its close collaborators in the betting industry to see if this possibility existed and it was decided that, as a precaution, these partners should alert betting companies to have the game ‘unlisted’."
“The MFA contacted the police to inform them about these developments and, after the police saw that the allegations were based on rumors, they also agreed that the MFA did well to take the necessary precautions vis-a-vis the betting companies.”
Source: Kevin Azzopardi, "Malta FA took precautionary measures", 25 May 2015, Times of Malta, https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150525/football/malta-fa-took-precautionary-measures.569616
Foreign nationals gaining a foothold in the unimpressive Maltese football leagues are using their ability to bring star players from overseas, as a way of rigging matches so that they can make a killing on betting websites.
Earlier this week, two Maltese nationals and two Italians connected to Maltese football were named by Catanzaro police as forming part of a loosely-connected syndicate of match-fixers, who staked tens of thousands of euros on lowly Italian Serie D and Lega Pro leagues. Brothers Robert and Adrian Farrugia – the former at one time president of Msida St Joseph, the latter a team manager at Mosta FC, where Robert’s son Tyrone plays – have not yet been questioned by Maltese police.
Source: Matthew Vella, "Match-fixing bust sheds light on foreign interest in Maltese league", 25 May 2015, Malta today, https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/sports/football/53307/matchfixing_bust_sheds_light_on_foreign_interest_in_maltese_league
Korea (Rep. of)
After a recent match-fixing case involving a professional basketball coach, illegal sports betting has come back onto the public's radar. Data show astonishing facts.
The National Gambling Control Commission revealed in a study the amount of illegal sports betting, which includes unauthorized betting on horseracing, cycling, motorboat racing and online betting on other sports, was estimated to have reached some 17.5 trillion won in 2012. The total amount of illegal gambling was estimated at 75 trillion won.
In a separate study conducted by the Korean Institute of Criminology (KIC), the amount of illegal sports betting jumped to some 31 trillion won in 2013, while the institute estimate the total size of illegal gambling hovers around 100 trillion won.
Experts agree illegal sports gambling is flourishing.
Source: Nam Hyun-woo, "Illegal sports betting gets bigger", 31 May 2015, Korea Times, https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/sports/2015/05/136_179912.html
ODDS AND ENDS
South Korea's controversial 2-1 win over Italy and penalty shoot-out defeat of Spain at the 2002 World Cup have been questioned again in the Italian press.
The Corriere dello Sport newspaper alleges that the referee who presided over Spain’s defeat to South Korea was designated by Jack Warner.
The newspaper claims the under-fire former FIFA executive assigned referees to a number of matches at the tournament, among them Spain's controversial penalty loss to the joint-host nation. The match is remembered for the multitude of questionable officiating decisions, which saw Spain denied two valid goals and eventually crash out 5-3 on penalties.
Warner, a former FIFA vice-President and CONCAFAF head, was charged with corruption charges by the United States Department of Justice on Wednesday.
While it is not suggested that Warner selected the referee for Italy's 2-1 extra-time defeat to South Korea in 2002, the Italian press have long viewed that game with sceptisism.
Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno, who sent off Francesco Totti during the game, was recently released from a 26-month sentence for drug trafficking in New York.
Source: Maxwell Ward, "South Korea results from 2002 World Cup now under scrutiny", 29 May 2015, Eurosport, https://www.eurosport.com/football/south-korea-results-from-2002-world-cup-now-under-scrutiny_sto4758133/story.shtml
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has banned an amateur player from competing in competitions for six years and ordered him to pay costs of £5,000 after he was found guilty of match-fixing.
Source: AP, "Snooker association hits player with six-year match fixing ban", 29 May 2015, Gaming iltelligence, https://www.gamingintelligence.com/legal/32111-snooker-association-hits-players-with-six-year-match-fixing-ban
- 2002 World Cup Anti-Corruption Central Refereeing Committee (KED) CONCACAF Federbet FIFA Football Greece INTERPOL Italian Serie D Italy Korean Basketball League (KBL) Korean Institute of Criminology (KIC) Latvia Lega Pro League Malta Malta FA National Gambling Control Commission Snooker South Korea Southeast Asian Games The FA UEFA United Kingdom (UK) World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA)