Global match-fixing: J-League launch investigation, CONCACAF's new Competition Integrity Measures, and Australia propose new legislation

Published 25 March 2014

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This week's recap features a number of articles related to match-fixing in sports besides football including cricket, rugby and e-sports. This further proves that match-fixing and corruption in sport is a global problem, requiring the coordinated efforts of all stakeholders from sport, law enforcement, government and the gaming sector to effectively combat.

 

Current investigation

Japan

Japan's professional football league has said an internal probe turned up no evidence to support suspicions that a recent match was fixed, as it wrestles with an embarrassing racism scandal. The J-League launched an investigation earlier this month after a FIFA unit said it had noticed unusual online betting patterns in a March 8 game between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Kawasaki Frontale. Betting on football is legal in Japan. But FIFA's Early Warning System, launched in 2007 to fight corruption in world football, spotted an abnormal rise in bets that Kawasaki would lead the match at half-time, with its rival prevailing by the final whistle. That turned out to be a profitable bet: Sanfrecce overcame a 1-0 half-time deficit to beat Kawasaki 2-1. After questioning players, coaches, officials, referees and other people involved in the match, the league said in a statement on its website Tuesday that there was "no trace at all" of match-fixing.

Source: "Japan football's J-League denies match-fixing", 19 March 2014, AFP https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/world/a/22061193/japan-footballs-j-league-denies-match-fixing/

Korea (Rep. of)

The Korea eSports Association have finished their investigation into the testimony of professional League of Legends player Promise, who attempted suicide last week after revealing the extent of match fixing within AHQ Korea. After examining replays and audio files from Ongamenet and speaking to Promise’s former teammates, KeSPA have reported that his account of player coercion was mostly accurate - and will file a lawsuit against AHQ’s coach. In spring 2013, AHQ Korea coach Mr Noh gathered his players together. The team had advanced to the round of 16 stage of OGN Champions, one of South Korea’s most prestigious tournaments. Mr Noh, it is alleged, told his team that OGN had a tradition of taking an ‘advertisement fee’ from large qualifying eSports companies like AHQ. Noh said that, amid some language difficulties, he had refused to pay - and as a result, OGN were demanding that AHQ must throw their games against certain other Champions teams. AHQ weren’t convinced. But according to KeSPA’s report, two of its players - Promise and ActScene - later agreed in private to help fix two upcoming matches against KTB and CJ Frost. They would do so in exchange for some of the money Noh said he had received from OGN. Player testimony has led KeSPA to conclude that only Promise took part in the match fixing. The organisation are in the process of filing a lawsuit against Mr Noh, and plan to use the details of their report as evidence in a case against him.

Source: Jeremy Peel, "KeSPA confirm AHQ League of Legends team were coerced into match fixing by coach", 19 March 2014, PCGamesN https://www.pcgamesn.com/kespa-confirm-ahq-league-legends-team-were-coerced-match-fixing-coach

Malaysia

Former KL player Hafizi Roslee, who was banned for life by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) for his alleged involvement in match-fixing, will have his civil dispute heard at the High Court next month. Judicial Commissioner Rosilah Yop set April 23 to hear the matter. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Hafizi’s lawyer Kevin De Rozario said his client was suing FAM not for damages but to get a court order to declare that the disciplinary codes were unfair. He said JC Rosilah ordered the parties to file their affidavits by March 31 and hand over the respective written submissions by April 17. In the lawsuit filed on Feb 26, the 29-year-old former defender has named FAM and Kuala Lumpur Football Association as defendants. Hafizi is seeking a declaration that he is not bound by an FAM notice dated Dec 4 last year and that disciplinary proceedings conducted by it without his presence on Dec 20 last year was to be struck off and rendered invalid. He wants to get a declaration that the court has the jurisdiction based on equity and natural justice to quash or strike out Articles under the FAM’s disciplinary code which was unconstitutional.

Source: "Ex-footballer has April 23 hearing against FAM", 18 March 2014, The Star Online https://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/03/18/Exfootballer-has-April-23-hearing-against-FAM/



Good practice 

CONCACAF

CONCACAF has introduced a set of Competition Integrity Measures to tackle match-fixing. They are now being conducted before every CONCACAF tournament and competition. Titled 'Protect Yourself and Keep Your Sport Clean' the programme debuted at this year's CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship in the Cayman Islands and is currently being implemented in the CONCACAF Champions League. The measures have also been adopted by the Caribbean Football Union for its competitions. The educational programme is primarily based on prevention of match fixing but carries information on how to report incidents and details of contact officials on-site. The educational programme reinforces the regulations which outlaw betting on football matches by players and officials, and emphasises that the communication of sensitive inside information to anyone outside the club is forbidden.

Source: Paul Nicholson, "CONCACAF battles match-fixers with new protocol and educational programme", 17 March 2014, Inside World Football https://www.insideworldfootball.com/world-football/football-americas/concacaf-news/14301-concacaf-battles-match-fixers-with-new-protocol-and- educational-programme


 

 

Illegal betting

 

China

Members of an online soccer betting ring have spent more than 10 days in court in south China's Guangdong Province, where 67 are being prosecuted. One of China's largest online gambling cases has been proceeding in Liwan District People's Procuratorate in Guangzhou city since March 11. Investigators claim the gang illegally opened online casinos and attracted bets valued at 484 billion yuan (77.7 billion U.S. dollars) from March 2008 to April 2013. Most of their illegal earnings were transferred overseas. The online betting ring operated via gambling websites including "Huangguan"and "Yongligao" registered outside China. The suspects used overseas websites to lure punters to place bets and took commissions from them. Prosecutors want network operators to set up warnings for visitors to suspected gambling websites to cut the connection between the gamblers and the gambling ring. Financial institutions should assist the police by paying more attention to abnormal money flows.

Source: "67 being tried for online gambling", 21 March 2014, People's Daily Online https://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90882/8574543.html

 

United Kingdom

Newcastle United midfielder Dan Gosling has been fined 30,000 pounds after admitting a misconduct charge relating to betting, the FA said on Wednesday. In a statement on their website (www.thefa.com) the FA said Gosling, who requested a personal hearing, admitted "multiple breaches of Rule E8(b) for misconduct in relation to betting." The rule prohibits footballers betting on competitions they have played in that season or matches on which they have any direct or indirect influence. The 24-year-old, who returned to the Premier League club from a loan spell at Blackpool earlier in the season, has made five appearances for Newcastle in this campaign.

Source: Toby Davis, "Newcastle's Gosling fined by FA after betting charge", 19 March 2014, Reuters https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/newcastles-gosling-fined-fa-betting-charge-180448976--spt.html


 

Legislation

 

Australia

Australia is closing legislative loopholes to fight sports-related corruption but needs to allow police to share more information with sports administrators, former International Cricket Council boss Malcolm Speed has said. Speed, ICC chief executive from 2001-08, now heads the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS), an advocacy group representing the governing bodies of top Australian sports including cricket, rugby and soccer. Australia has been on the front foot drafting legislation to fight betting-related corruption, and convicted two British footballers in Victoria state in December using new legislative powers. World soccer's governing body FIFA extended a lifetime ban globally on the players on Monday after they were banned in Australia for seeking to corrupt outcomes in Victoria's state-level competition. Speed welcomed a move by Australia's Queensland state announced this week to introduce legislation targeted at betting-related crime in sports, but said bureaucracy was slowing the fight against corruption. Queensland state, home to Super Rugby's Queensland Reds and a number of top professional sports franchises, will join three of Australia's six states in introducing legislation targeting betting-related corruption in sports. Speed urged Western Australia and Tasmania states to commit to the same.

Source: Ian Ransom, "Australian sports need access to police intelligence - Speed", 18 March 2014, Reuters https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-uk-corruption-australia-20140318,0,5792619.story

 

Australia

The NSW Government has introduced legislation to Parliament to combat match fixing in sport, Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing, George Souris and Minister for Sport and Recreation, Gabrielle Upton, announced today. Mr Souris said the legislation, known as the Racing Administration Amendment (Sports Betting National Operational Model) Bill 2014, provides a framework for betting agencies to enter into integrity agreements with sports controlling bodies. This will also let the Government determine which sporting bodies are appropriate for wagering activity. It will allow for increased scrutiny of betting on sports that may not be considered professional. A betting agency breaching the legislation will receive a fine of up to $11,000. An individual who breaches the legislation will receive a $5,500 fine or 12 months imprisonment or both.

Source: "New legislation to target match-fixing in sport", 20 March 2014, Indusage https://www.indusage.com.au/new-legislation-to-target-match-fixing-in-sport/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-legislation-to-target- match-fixing-in-sport#

 

Australia

The NRL said today it supported State Government legislation to protect the integrity of sport. The General Manager of Integrity, Mr Nick Weeks, said it was imperative that fans can be confident in the integrity of the game. He said that, under the new legislation, bookmakers will not be able to take bets on Rugby League unless they have entered an integrity agreement with the NRL. Mr Weeks said this would give the NRL, and other sporting bodies, a greater say in the types of bets which were placed on their games. "There is nothing more important than the integrity of the game," Mr Weeks said. "We will work with the various betting agencies on the types of bets which are suitable for Rugby League." The betting agencies generally co-operate with the NRL by not offering bet types which may lend themselves to fraud or abuse." But this legislation will make it easier for us to veto any bet types which are not appropriate for our game." So we think the ultimate winners will be the members, players and fans of Rugby League who can be even more confident about the integrity of the game." Mr Weeks said the legislation is an important step towards reaching a national policy on sports betting.

Source: "NRL backs gambling integrity legislation", 19 March 2014, NRL.COM https://www.nrl.com/nrl-backs-gambling-integrity-legislation/tabid/10874/newsid/76931/default.aspx

 

Germany

Politicians in Germany are stepping up the fight against doping and match-fixing, as the Bavarian Ministry of Justice presents a bill calling for prison terms of up to five years for any professional sportsperson involved in either practice. The FAZ newspaper reports that the German administration would prefer to wait for a new European Union convention with regard to match-fixing, but the Bavarian Ministry of Justice wants to cover the issue under an “umbrella law” with doping. Match-fixing has been a prominent concern in the country in recent years as a result of scandals in 2005 and 2009, both involving the Sapina brothers, who are still on trial over the more recent matter. The Bavarian bill argues that new monitoring systems have failed “to curb the excesses of corruption effectively” and that only the federal state can “clear up match-fixing through criminal procedural authorities.” The majority of related betting takes place in foreign markets, and it adds: “Match-fixing can only be fought effectively through a penal law that treats the manipulators on the pitch as perpetrators.” However, FAZ reports that there may be resistance among the Christian Democratic Union’s sports politicians when the matter comes to a vote in the German Federal Parliament amid fears of a “criminalisation of the athletes.

Source: Stephan Uersfeld, "Germany stepping up war on doping", 18 March 2014, ESPN FC https://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1755002/germany-step-doping-match-fixing-laws

 

United States

In an effort to put an end to online gambling in the United States, Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is preparing to introduce his “Internet Gambling Control Act” to Congress next week, aimed at restoring the Wire Act’s pre-2011 reinterpretation. If Chaffetz’s bill eventually passes, all online gambling, including poker, sports betting and state lotteries will be prohibited, although horse racing has not been included in the list. In 1961 the Interstate Wire Act prohibited most gambling businesses in the USA, while in 2006 the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) targeted the the country’s internet gambling market. By 2011, however, the 2006 UIGEA was re-interpreted to only apply to sports wagering, thus paving the way for states such as Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey to introduce regulated online gambling in 2013. In favour of internet gaming proponents, however, will be objections to online lotteries being included in the bill’s black list, in addition to fears online players will simply continue gambling on unregulated offshore sites.

Source: B. Solomon, "Anti-Internet Gambling Bill To Be Introduced By End Of March", 20 March 2014, Online Poker.net https://www.onlinepoker.net/poker-news/poker-law-industry-news/antiinternet-gambling-bill-introduced-march/22690



Odds and ends

 

AIPS

President of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS-global) has urged local sports journalists across the African Continent to stand up and fight against match fixing and corruption in sports. The Italian-born Gianni M. Merlo in his remark during the opening session of the 2014 AIPS Africa Congress at the Jardins Savana hotel in Dakar Senegal, on Wednesday 19th March 2014 said match fixing, illegal sports betting and corruption posed the biggest threat to the job of sports journalists across the globe. He said people posing as ‘agents’ usually come from different crime organizations pretending to assist unsuspecting young athletes only to clandestinely obtain unholy favours from them in return. “If sports loses its integrity the sports journalists lose the integrity in our job and if sports falls down then one of the biggest industry in the world falls down and millions will be out of job therefore, it is incumbent on all sports journalists to fight very hard against match fixing, illegal betting and corruption in sports,” the AIPS president warned, adding: “by helping to make sports clean we are helping the new generation and improving on the culture of sports which is fair competition.

Source: Frank Cole, "AIPS President urges to ‘fight’ against match fixing and corruption in sports", 21 March 2014, Sierra Express Media https://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/archives/66099

 

India

We have earlier reported that upcoming Kannada flick, Nimbe Huli, revolves around the murky world of cricket betting. The director of the film, Hemanth Hedge, reveals that his movie is based on the infamous 2002 match-fixing episode involving two top players of the then Indian cricket team — Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja. Hemanth was a big fan of Jadeja and was extremely disappointed when his favourite cricketer's name figured in the cricket scandal. Heartbroken, yet curious to know about how betting syndicates operate in detail, Hemanth decided to make a film covering the issue. "However, the film is not entirely about betting. It's only the first few minutes of the film that feature shocking details of the betting industry. A lot of research has gone into betting syndicates operating across the world to bring the reality onscreen," says Hemanth.

Source: Parinatha Sampath, "Azharuddin, Jadeja's match-fixing scandal inspires Kannada film ", 18 March 2014, Times of India https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/kannada/movies/news-interviews/Azharuddin-Jadejas-match-fixing-scandal-inspires-Kannada- film/articleshow/32199031.cms

 

India

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday moved Madras High Court seeking Rs. 100cr as damage from a top media house for wrongly involving & accusing him of match fixing. In his plea, Dhoni has denied his involvement in any such unlawful activities and alleged that the news channel had wrongly accused him in match fixing scandal and maligned his image. According to a report published in an English daily, Dhoni has already won an interim order from the court restraining the media house for two weeks from telecasting interviews or news pertaining to certain IPL match-fixing allegations against him. Notably, the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL 6) was hit by match-fixing, spot-fixing scandals. Various cricketers' names were surfaced in the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee report.

Source: "IPL match-fixing: MS Dhoni sues top media house, seeks Rs. 100 crore for tarnishing his image ", 18 March 2014, Daily Bhaskar https://daily.bhaskar.com/article/NAT-TOP-ipl-match-fixing-chennai-superkings-skipper-ms-dhoni-sues-top-media-house-seeks--4553120-NOR.html

 

Spain

Christmas was the last straw. Agustín Fernández, a powerful defender for the Spanish soccer club Racing Santander, had gone four months without seeing a paycheck, so while corporate mismanagement had left his team on the brink of insolvency, Fernández was the one going broke. When the holidays arrived and he could not afford to buy his 3-year-old daughter the bicycle she wanted, the realization nearly left him in tears. “It made me sick that I could not stand up for her as a man,” said Fernández, who was supposed to be earning about 2,800 euros, or about $3,900 a month. “This is professional football. How could this happen?” Fernández, who left Santander in January for a lower-ranked team (and the promise of regular pay), is hardly alone in his frustration. While most soccer fans are focused on the glamour of big-money clubs like Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris St.-Germain, unpaid wages are a growing concern among professional players. The reasons vary — corrupt executives and overspending in the pursuit of trophies are just a couple — but the problem reflects larger economic turmoil. Eastern Europe, where the global financial crisis has hit hardest, is among the regions most notorious for not paying players. In a 2011 survey of about 3,200 players there, 41.4 percent complained of missing pay, according to FIFPro, an organization that represents pro players. FIFPro found the number was even higher in some countries, including Greece (nearly 70 percent) and Croatia (about 60 percent). Budding stars with big dreams should avoid playing in Montenegro altogether: 94 percent of the survey’s players there said they were routinely not paid.

Source: Sam Borden, "Another Victim of Global Financial Crisis: Pro Soccer Players", 23 March 2014, The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/sports/soccer/pro-soccer-players-are-victims-of-global-financial-crisis.html?_r=0



Sentences/Sanctions

 

Australia

Two English players have had life bans extended worldwide for fixing matches in Australia's second-tier Victorian Premier League, soccer's governing body FIFA said Monday. Defender Reiss Noel and goalkeeper Joe Woolley, who both played for Southern Stars, pleaded guilty and were fined by a Melbourne court in December after manipulating games on the instruction of betting syndicates based in Malaysia and Hungary. Noel was slapped with a fine of A$2,000 (US$1,800) while Woolley got a penalty of A$1,200 for his role in the crime. The two players were subsequently given lifetime bans by the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) and these were extended worldwide by FIFA's disciplinary committee on Friday, soccer's governing body said. FIFA said two other British players and one Australian team official were still under FFA bans in relation to the same criminal investigations being conducted by Victoria police. Malaysian Segaran Gsubramaniam, 45, described by police as the linchpin of the Australian operation and a link between the team and off-shore betting syndicates, also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentence. The multi-million dollar racket was smashed by police in September.

Source: Brian Homewood, "Two players get worldwide bans for Australian match-fixing", 17 March 2014, Reuters https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-uk-soccer-australia-matchfixing-20140317,0,154232.story


 

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