Integrity in sport update: Euroleague basketball extends integrity partnership with SportIM

Weekly media recap 28 September 2015 - 4 October 2015

The seventh meeting of the INTERPOL Match-Fixing Task Force took place last week with more than 40 participants from 25 countries attending. The two-day meeting discussed certain key areas such as identifying tactics used by criminals and organized crime networks, and the need to educate players as well as officials on how to recognize, resist and report attempts to corrupt or fix any sporting event. The INTERPOL Match-Fixing Task Force was created in 2011 with eight countries. It now has more than 70 countries participating as part of INTERPOL’s efforts to support member countries in match-fixing investigations and operations, as well as to maintain a global network of investigators for information-sharing.

This week’s recap also highlights two new separate investigations into match-fixing that have recently been initiated, in Sierra Leone and Singapore. A current investigation in Vietnam, is also highlighted, which resulted in one player having criminal charges of match-fixing dropped against him whilst five of his colleagues will continue to remain in custody for a match that took place in July 2014.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Sierra Leone

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) Palo Conteh has told journalists that the investigation into the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) will start soon. The CEO said it is true that FIFA has given him the authority to do the investigation, but he said there are things they have to put in place before they can start. “We need a lawyer, recording gadgets and other electronics so that we will be able to take statements from people.” Palo Conteh averred that it is high time that they start, even though he is still fighting the ebola. He said when the SLFA boss returns home they will have to call a press conference and give a date when they will start the enquiry. Palo Conteh said he like sports especially football but stop shot saying that the peace in the game lies in his hands. He said for two years these so called stake holders have been fighting instead of them coming together with the SLFA to chat the way forward. “I can tell you that we have a very good team that can compete in Africa and beyond and I can also tell you that if the atmosphere is condusive this team can qualify for Nations Cup as well as World Cup. He said he will continue to appeal to all of them in the game to see reason for them to be a united family rather than fighting themselves." “A united house will always succeed, but when you are divided, it is recipe for chaos.

Source: "Sierra Leone Sports: Palo Conteh says investigation into match fixing allegation will start soon", 28 September 2015, Awoko News, https://awoko.org/2015/09/28/sierra-leone-sports-palo-conteh-says-investigation-into-match-fixing-allegation-will-start-soon/

Singapore

An allegation of bribery has emerged in Singaporean football stemming from a match between Balestier Khalsa FC and Singapore Recreation Club (SRC) from July last year. The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has released a statement on the issue, which centres around a Singapore League Cup plate semi-final held on July 19, which Balestier Khalsa won 2-0. The Tigers then lost the final 3-0 to Tampines Rovers. “We take a very serious view on this matter and are assisting the authorities in their investigations,” the FAS statement read. “We have always adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of corruption, including match-fixing." "We would like to reiterate that any player or official found guilty in a court of law for football corruption offences, or on sufficient proof being established before the FAS Council, will be dealt with severely and with the full extent of our laws, including the imposition of a permanent suspension from taking part in football management, membership and/or the activities of the FAS.” The statement added that the investigation is ongoing. Match fixing allegations have been a blight on the sport in this part of the world, including during this year’s SEA Games. A Singaporean and others of different nationalities were arrested in May following a match-fixing operation. Members of the Timor-Leste team assisted officials with the inquiries.

Source: James Dampney, "FAS reveals bribery allegation in Singapore football ", 3 October 2015, Four Four Two News, https://www.fourfourtwo.com/sg/news/fas-reveals-bribery-allegation-singapore-football

Vietnam

The Ministry of Public Security has dropped criminal charges against one of six Dong Nai soccer players arrested last year over allegations of manipulating the result of a 2014 V.League match. Former defender Phan Luu The Son, 24, has been cleared from gambling accusations, according to Major General Ho Sy Tien. On July 22, 2014, police arrested Dong Nai’s captain Pham Huu Phat and five other players, including Son, on suspicion of match-fixing. Son was not detained during investigation. The other five have been held since. According to investigators, Phat got the other five involved in fixing their away match against Quang Ninh on July 20, which Dong Nai lost 5-3. Tran Van Ba, the bookmaker that Phat contacted, and four of his accomplices also face charges of organizing gambling activities. The Asian Football Confederation later suspended the players following similar action from Vietnam Football Federation (VFF). VFF issued a life ban against the six players in April. Police said Son's violation was the least serious.

Son did not discuss with others from the beginning. He only knew about it on the field and agreed to join,” Tien said. Police are still investigating the other five players. Speaking to the media, Son said he wanted to play again and hoped that VFF would rethink the lifetime ban. Nguyen Hai Huong, head of VFF Discipline Committee, said it would be difficult for VFF to withdraw the decision since the appeal period has long passed. Gambling is illegal in Vietnam and punishable by jail terms ranging from two to seven years if the bet money is VND50 million or more. But despite the ban, betting on soccer, the country’s most popular sport, is rampant in Vietnam. Match-fixing is also rife, with many bookmakers and players arrested over the years. On August 25, 2014, Vissai Ninh Binh defender Tran Manh Dung got 30 months in jail for match-fixing. Eight other players from the northern club received suspended sentences for betting on their Asian Football Confederation Cup match against Malaysia’s Kelantan on March 18, 2014.

Source: "Match-fixing charges dropped for Vietnamese footballer; life ban may stay", 30 September 2015, Thanh Nien News, https://www.thanhniennews.com/sports/matchfixing-charges-dropped-for-vietnamese-footballer-life-ban-may-stay-51903.html

GOOD PRACTICE

Euroleague

Euroleague the highest tier of professional basketball in Europe, has confirmed that it has extended its integrity monitoring partnership with Sport Integrity Monitor (SportIM). The partnership extension will see SportIM set up sports monitoring workshops in order to educate Euroleague stakeholders, officials and employees on suspicious betting patterns related to European basketball matches. The agreement will see Euroleague integrate SportIM’s tailored basketball monitoring system which will be backed by its team of integrity analysts and sports monitors. “Thanks to reaching agreements with innovative organisations such as Sport Integrity Monitor, we are able to use their expertise and state-of-the-art technology in order to help protect the integrity of our sport,” Eduard Scott, CEO of Euroleague Basketball. “We look forward to the two-fold approach, utilising SportIM’s pioneering basketball monitoring system as well as co-organising educational workshops for all of the relevant participants and stakeholders in our competitions." “We are confident that this relationship will minimise the threat of match and spot fixing whilst ensuring that all Euroleague Basketball games can withstand the strictest scrutiny.

The SportIM system has exclusive access to live game data from over 35,000 basketball events per year, more than a decade’s worth of historic basketball data and live and historic odds from the global betting market. It processes and monitors these datasets and its sophisticated algorithms identify anomalies in real time.

Source: Ted Menmuir, "Euroleague extends basketball integrity partnership with SportIM", 28 September 2015, SBC News, https://www.sbcnews.co.uk/retail/2015/09/28/22547/

INTERPOL

LYON, France – Enhanced cooperation through sharing best practice and expertise was the focus of the seventh meeting of the INTERPOL Match-Fixing Task Force (IMFTF). The two-day (29 and 30 September) meeting brought together more than 40 law enforcement specialists from 25 countries, and also included for the first time representatives from international sport organizations including the International Olympic Committee and gambling agencies. Key areas for discussion were identifying tactics used by criminals and organized crime networks and the need to educate players and officials on how to recognize, resist and report attempts to corrupt or fix any sporting event. “It is important for football, and all sports, to have a relationship with INTERPOL, as match manipulation is a transnational problem,” said Tony Higgins, Vice President of FIFPro Europe Division. “Football on its own is limited in what it can do particularly in relation to investigations. This is why we need police authorities in all countries to recognise the issues and also deal with the criminal element which football itself cannot touch,” added Mr Higgins. Chief Superintendent Philippe Ménard, head of France’s central department for racing and gambling which will be responsible for EURO 2016, said the INTERPOL meeting was an important opportunity for those responsible for combating corruption in sport to come together and learn from one another. “Officers in the field need to be able to identify and respond effectively to any attempt of match-manipulation,” said Mr Ménard. “Educating all those involved to the problems associated to these crimes and increase the sharing of best practice and information – the more information is shared, the better we can respond,” he added. Created in 2011 with eight countries, the IMFTF now has more than 70 countries participating as part of INTERPOL’s efforts to support member countries in match-fixing investigations and operations, and to maintain a global network of investigators for information-sharing.

Source: "Unifying efforts to combat match-fixing focus of INTERPOL task force meeting", 30 September 2015, INTERPOL, https://www.interpol.int/

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