New Jersey permits sports wagers; experts at Soccerex identify "significant global threat" to football

Weekly Media Recap 8-14 September 2014 Published 16 September 2014

Football place in corner

This week, the media has extensively covered the Soccerex Global Convention which took place between the 6-10 September in Manchester, United Kingdom. Mr. John Abbott, chairman of INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport Steering Group, was one of the experts invited to give a presentation. He revealed that on average, 60 to 80 countries a year have reported allegations of match-fixing in football over the last three years.

Also in the news, a player and a former referee have been convicted and sentenced for trying to fix a football match in 2010, following an investigation by Hungarian authorities. These are the first convictions since inquiries into corruption in football started in 2009, and which have led to some 50 people being charged, including Tan Seet Eng, alias Dan Tan.

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Ghana

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) Ethics Committee has exonerated Kwesi Nyantakyi, President of the Association in the matter of the allegation of attempted match-fixing by some officials of the GFA. It followed articles published by UK newspaper The Telegraph between 22-24 June 2014 and the airing of the Dispatches programme “How to fix a football match” on Channel Four on 23 June 2014 that made claims of an alleged case of match manipulation linked to the organisation of international friendly matches involving Ghana’s national team. The Ethics Committee, however, says it is necessary to conduct further investigations in the matter as it relates to Obed Nana Kwame Nketiah and Mr. Christopher Forsythe, two other people involved in the matter. According to the ruling, both Mr. Nketiah and Mr. Forsythe confirmed that they did not inform Mr. Nyantakyi about their meetings and discussions with UK based company, Diamond Capital Management (DCM), who were desirous of doing business with the GFA in the organization of International friendly matches for the Ghana National Team on a long term basis.

Source: "GFA boss cleared off match-fixing allegations", 9 September 2014, All Sports, https://allsports.com.gh/football/nyantakyi-cleared-gfa-boss-cleared-off-match-fixing-allegations-id3115948.html

Sweden

The Swedish Football Association (SvFF) has announced it has reported a case of "suspected bribery" to the police in relation to Jonkopings Sodra's match against Syrianska on August 25 which Jonkoping won 4-0. Alarm bells rang after the start of the game as large wagers were made on more than 3.5 goals being scored in the game. 10 minutes into the game, before any goals were scored, anti-match fixing organisation Federbet issued a warning and several bookmakers including Unibet stopped taking bets. After being told of the unusual betting patterns, SvFF reviewed footage of the game and said in a statement: "The SvFF is of the opinion that there is reason to believe that bribery may have been committed in connection with the match. The FA sees that no further investigative action by the association can determine if the crime was committed, and the hope is that a preliminary investigation (including the actions the police may take) can clear this up."

Source: "Swedish 'Syrians' under suspicion for match-fixing", 11 September 2014, Inside World Football, https://www.insideworldfootball.com/world-football/europe/15427-swedish-syrians-under-suspicion-for-match-fixing

GOOD PRACTICE

CONCACAF

CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) and ESSA (European Sports Security Association), the regulated betting industry’s integrity body, have today agreed to establish a betting integrity information sharing arrangement. The agreement builds on ESSA’s already strong information sharing base with many of the world’s major football authorities. It also aims to demonstrate the increasingly global focus of ESSA and its membership, which represents many of the leading regulated sports betting operators. “This partnership agreement with CONCACAF sends a clear and forceful message to match-fixers and further highlights the determination of ESSA’s regulated operators and responsible sporting bodies such as CONCACAF to work together to address a common threat to both of our sectors,” said Khalid Ali, Secretary General of ESSA. Dr. Laila Mintas, Director of Sports Integrity at CONCACAF said: “CONCACAF follows a multi-step approach in the fight against match-fixing in order to be able to prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to potential cases with zero tolerance. Cooperation and coordination with all other stakeholders is integral to CONCACAF’s strategy. The sports betting industry is an important partner in that fight. Building an efficient partnership with the betting industry’s integrity body is therefore very essential”.

Source: "ESSA and CONCACAF agree betting integrity MoU", 9 September 2014, SBC News, https://www.sbcnews.co.uk/retail/2014/09/09/essa-and-concacaf-agree-betting-integrity-mou/#ixzz3D6pS1fzP

European Club Association

Europe's top football clubs have been asked to increase their commitment to prevent match-fixing. The European Club Association says it invited 214 members to sign a "Charter on Integrity in Football." The membership includes several clubs which have had officials or players convicted or sanctioned for involvement in fixing cases since the group was created in 2008. Clubs signing the charter promise to "include in their standard player contract a clause which explicitly refers to the prohibition to engage in match-fixing." The charter requires clubs to appoint a "reliable contact person" for staff and players to report attempts to corrupt matches. Club staff should also be educated about the risks of betting on games, the ECA says.

Source: "European clubs step uo match-fixing prevention", 9 September 2014, Associated Press, https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/soccer/2014/09/09/european-clubs-step-up-match-fixing-prevention/15348843/

United Kingdom

Scotland’s leading anti-corruption campaigner and Vice-President of FIFPro, Tony Higgins, has revealed a major new European initiative aimed at combating the scourge of match-fixing. In June a nine-country pilot project, chaired by Higgins and aimed at developing local solutions to combat the international criminal gangs, came to an end. It was so successful, the organisers are now going back to the European Commission, who funded it, with a proposal for a new 20-country, two-and-a-half-year initiative. “The reason for this is the sheer weight of interest we have encountered in the 18 months we were working on it,” said Higgins. “There is no room for complacency, match-fixing has surfaced in all sorts of places that people would not have imagined possible. The main focus of what we are trying to achieve is to make sure players, referees, club officials and everybody in the game really are aware of the potential threat. We go round all the clubs to hammer home the message that players have always got to be careful of whom they befriend.

Source: "Scotland's top match-fixing troubleshooter issues warning", 14 September 2014, Sunday Post, https://news.sky.com/story/1332358/british-football-vulnerable-to-match-fixing

ILLEGAL BETTING

Singapore On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a surprise move in defiance of federal law: he decided to allow the casinos to accept wagers on most sports events. New Jersey will be the first state to do so outside of Nevada. His action happened on the same day as the Singaporean government released a proposed law that, short of outright banning online gambling, would restrict it in ways no other country has. The Singapore measure, expected to take effect next year, would restrict remote gambling in three ways: it would block access to such websites, ban advertisements for online gambling, and prevent payments to and from the sites. The two purposes of such restrictions are to shut down the match-fixing rings tied to sports betting and to protect young people and gambling addicts from easy access to online betting. Last year, a probe by Europol investigators found 680 matches worldwide were fixed by syndicates with links to Singapore.

Source: "Sports betting, friends and foes", 10 September 2014, CS Monitor, https://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2014/0910/Sports-betting-friends-and-foes

ODDS AND ENDS

Soccerex Global Convention

Match-fixing in football has developed into a “significant global threat” that could ruin the game and now involves organised crime infiltrating some European clubs, senior investigators have alleged. Sporting authorities and governments were urged to deliver a coordinated response to the problem at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester. John Abbott, chairman of INTERPOL's Integrity in Sport Steering Group, claimed there was complacency towards match-fixing in England and the prevailing “it couldn’t happen here” attitude was dangerous. He said: “Jérôme Valcke, the general secretary of Fifa, called match-fixing ‘the greatest threat to football that can kill the game". Football is top of the league as a target for match-fixing. Cricket is second. “It is a global problem; 60 to 80 countries a year have reported allegations of match-fixing in football over the last three years. It is a significant global threat now and we need solutions to prevent it ruining the game.

Source: "Interpol-FIFA investigators want tougher laws to prevent match-fixing", 10 September 2014, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/sep/10/interpol-investigator-tougher-laws-match-fixing-football-cricket

Sportradar

More than 300 games in the last year around the world are believed to have involved match-fixing, including a ‘double-digit’ number in England over the past two seasons, according to a variety of integrity sources. SportRadar, a Swiss-based firm with a hub in Richmond, Surrey, is known to work in co-operation with various football associations and police forces to combat fixing. The firm would not comment on specific information it has provided to police or associations but in quantifying the scale of the fixing problem in general, a spokesman told the Mail on Sunday: ‘Our fraud detection system has classified more than 1,500 football matches as suspicious since 2005. We have also detected a lot of other manipulated matches in various other sports.' SportRadar’s security team monitor not just betting patterns from bookmakers globally but also pivotal incidents in games and movements of players and associates. In the past six months alone their investigations have led to 60 arrests and 19 charges of match-fixing or similar crimes in countries including Australia and Hong Kong.

Source: "SCANDAL OF MATCH-FIXING: More than 300 games suspected to be involved in last year... with 'double-digit' number in England", 13 September 2014, Daily Mail, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2754939/MATCH-FIXING-SCANDAL-More-300-games-suspected-involved-year.html

United Kingdom

British football is vulnerable to match-fixers backed by organised crime gangs, Terry Steans, a former Fifa investigator has told Sky News. Steans has investigated match-fixing in international and domestic football, uncovering evidence that led to the conviction of a fixing gang targeting English football earlier this year. Sky News has obtained a list of more than a dozen footballers believed to have links to suspected match-fixers, some of whom feature on a watch-list compiled by the Football Association. At the weekend the FA confirmed for the first time that it has such a list, and keeps a number of players and their associates under observation as part of its efforts to combat fixing. Mr Steans has first-hand knowledge of that battle, having played a central role in the conviction of two fixers and a non-league footballer earlier this year. He told Sky News that the threat from fixers is global, and that English football would be arrogant to assume it was immune. Darren Bayley, the FA's director of football governance and regulation, told Sky News that the English game is better prepared than ever to tackle the threat from fixers.

Source: "British Football vulnerable to match-fixing", 8 September 2014, Sky News, https://news.sky.com/story/1332358/british-football-vulnerable-to-match-fixing

United Kingdom

DJ Campbell considered giving up football after being arrested in connection with a match-fixing investigation last year. The then Blackburn striker was one of six people detained in an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after newspaper claims over a yellow card he received in a Championship encounter against Ipswich in December, but he was released without charge last month. The much-travelled 32-year-old forward, who denied any wrongdoing throughout the scandal, is looking forward to concentrating on football now that his name has been cleared, but admits he could have walked away from the game altogether. "When I put everything into perspective, I had worked far too hard and made too many sacrifices to give football up. Why should I walk away when I had done nothing wrong?"

Source: "DJ Campbell nearly QUIT football after match-fixing claims", 8 September 2014, Express, https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/508135/DJ-Campbell-nearly-QUIT-football-after-match-fixing-claims

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Hungary

An investigation by Hungarian authorities into corruption in football has led to its first convictions, while the trial of Tan Seet Eng, a Singaporean businessman also known as Dan Tan and accused of being the head of a global match-rigging syndicate continued on Friday. A Hungarian player and a former referee have been found guilty of trying to fix a local under-19 match in 2010. Their convictions are the first since inquiries that have led to some 50 people being charged got underway in 2009. According to Thursday's decision by a Budapest court, Csaba Ponczok, playing for Videoton-Puskas Akademia, tried to bribe the goalkeeper of visiting Ferencvaros to allow at least four goals. The goalkeeper later reported the match-fixing attempt, while the home team won 1-0. Janos Csak, a former referee, was fined 450,000 forints ($1,850) for his involvement in the bribery attempt. Testifying at Friday's court session was Wilson Raj Perumal, also from Singapore and a former member of Eng's syndicate. He has provided information about match-fixing activities in several countries and is a witness for the prosecution.

Source: "2 Hungarians convicted of attempted match-fixing", 12 September 2014, Associated Press, https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/soccer/2014/09/12/2-hungarians-convicted-of-attempted-match-fixing/15508871/

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