Match-fixing update: 1400+ arrests in Interpol-coordinated World Cup 2014 Asian operation and Commonwealth to review sports integrity
Weekly Media Recap 14 - 20 July 2014
Published 23 July 2014
Australian police have arrested six men over allegations they ran a gambling syndicate that benefited from knowledge about the fixing of tennis matches at state, national and international level.
"Detectives are investigating allegations that a number of bets were placed on tennis matches played in both Australia and overseas where the outcome was predetermined by at least one of the players involved," read a statement from Victoria police. "The men will be interviewed in relation to match fixing contrary to the Crimes Amendment (Integrity in Sports) Act 2013, including the use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes." Under the act, anyone found guilty of match-fixing faces up to 10 years in prison.
An Australian court on Thursday convicted a third British soccer player for his part in a match-fixing ring that corrupted games in a semi-professional league in Victoria state. David Obaze, 25, was one of four Britons charged with corruption after a police investigation into betting irregularities surrounding Victoria Premier League club Southern Stars. Defender Reiss Noel and goalkeeper Joe Woolley, both Britons, were convicted and fined in December for throwing games on the instruction of a betting syndicate. Obaze pleaded guilty on Thursday to fixing three VPL games and was fined A$3000 ($2,800), the Australian Associated Press said, citing the Melbourne Magistrates' Court. A fourth Briton, Nicholas McKoy, 24, had also entered a guilty plea and was scheduled for a hearing in September, the news agency said. The players were handed life bans by FIFA last year.
Ex-Sierra Leone captain Ibrahim Kargbo is among 15 players and officials who have been suspended indefinitely over allegations of match-fixing. The three other players implicated are Ibrahim Koroma, Samuel Barlay and Christian Caulker. Three referees and another eight officials, including Rodney Michael, are the others to have been suspended. The allegations relate to a World Cup qualifier against South Africa in 2008 which ended goalless. The statement, jointly signed by sports minister Paul Kamara and Sierra Leone Football Association president Isha Johansen, added that an "investigating committee will be constituted by the SLFA and the Ministry of Sports to probe all allegations of match-fixing". It also said that the three players who had been called up to play in Sierra Leone's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles in Freetown on Saturday have been withdrawn.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) has appointed Javed Siraj as its Integrity Officer to combat corruption and match-fixing in the sport and he will take up his post from August 1. The Integrity Officer will be the single point contact on all matters of Integrity in AIFF. Among his many roles and responsibilities in the aforementioned capacity, the Integrity Officer is expected to develop an Integrity Plan and Strategy along with developing required educational material on integrity matters. He will also report the progress of this initiative to the Executive Committee of the AIFF from time to time. Siraj will also carry out risk assessment of competition/matches on threat of match manipulation and betting as and when required. He will also be paying visits to competition venues in view of preventing any sort of malpractice during matches.
As the sporting world grapples with illegal betting and match fixing, sports ministers of the 53 Commonwealth countries are to meet in Glasgow to review action on these ills and to promote integrity in sport. The ministers, who will gather on July 21, two days before the opening of the 20th Commonwealth Games in the Scottish city, will also look at ways of promoting development and peace through sport. The 7th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting is an opportunity for ministers and senior officials to bolster policy and investment in the area of sport. The ministers will review national action plans and best practices in the field of sport for development and peace, and international action on integrity in sport, including governance, transparency and prevention of match fixing. Barbados, Rwanda and Sri Lanka are among those countries already using these guidelines to develop national action plans.
An INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting illegal soccer gambling networks across Asia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup has resulted in more than 1,400 arrests and the seizure of almost USD 12 million. During the six-week operation, law enforcement officers from China, Hong Kong (China), Macao (China), Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam carried out more than 1,000 raids on illegal gambling dens – many controlled by organized crime gangs – estimated to have handled around USD 2.2 billion worth of bets, the majority through illicit websites. The combined five SOGA operations have to date resulted in more than 8,400 arrests, the seizure of almost USD 40 million in cash and the closure of some 3,400 illegal gambling dens which handled almost USD 5.7 billion worth of bets.
Eight people from Malaysia, China and Hong Kong have been acccused of operating a temporary illegal gambling ring from Las Vegas that investigators said logged millions of dollars in bets on World Cup soccer games. U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said the Las Vegas operation began shortly after Phua left the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, where he had been arrested June 18 and posted bail on similar allegations of illegal wagering on World Cup soccer games. Phua is from Malaysia. Bogden identified him as a high-ranking member of the 14K Triad, an Asian organized crime group. Bogden said that if convicted, each could face up to two years in federal prison on an unlawful transmission count and up to five years in prison on an illegal gambling business count, as well as fines on each count of up to $250,000.
ODDS AND ENDS
While the football world watched the World Cup final in Rio, Australia, the host of the Asian Cup 2015, focused their attention on the next big international tournament on the calendar. They have 180 days to ensure the event doesn’t fall under the same cloud of corruption that the World Cup faced. Asian Cup 2015 organizing committee Chief Executive Michael Brown has issued a warning to anybody looking to disrupt or manipulate the tournament. Allegations of match-fixing during the World Cup made some question the authenticity of a few games. Systems and processes have already been put in place to make match fixing more difficult. Brown told the Canberra Times that the Asian Football Confederation has required all 46 member associations to employ an integrity officer to ensure that match-fixing is treated with the magnitude and seriousness it deserves. A series of related workshops for players and coaches will begin at AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur as the team briefings are held these coming months.
During the meeting of the Youth and Sports Comission of the General Assembly, former footballer Osael Romero, who was banned for life due to match-fixing, presented his version recognizing his participation in the meeting to manipulate the game between El Salvador and Uruguay in 2013. He also explained how he felt threatened by the manipulators adding that they knew his parents location. Players Alfredo Pacheco and Ramon Flores didn't attend the meeting of the General Assembly.
MCC World Cricket Committee
The MCC's World Cricket Committee has called for the appointment of a new International Cricket Council supremo to lead the fight against match-fixing. The panel recommends creating a permanent role at the head of the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU). The committee, made up of former international cricketers, called for ICC member nations to work together to address match-fixing, including compiling a shared database of all illegal approaches reported by players.
Malta’s Economic Secretary Jose Herrera has urged the European Court of Justice (ECJ), for further clarity over the European Unions definition of illegal betting. Herrera made the appeal in light of the publication of the European draft convention on sports competitions. Having reviewed the draft set by the ECJ, Herrera claimed that certain document provisions would “hinder the free movement of services within the EU “. The Economic Secretary further noted that the convention could become an “inappropriate encroachment into the Maltese betting industry”. Herrera noted that the convention did not suitably define illegal sports betting, which the Maltese secretary believes could be used by EU member states to restrict Malta licensed sports betting operator from promoting products in EU state markets. Herrera’s concerns have been supported by Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority Chairman Joseph Cuschieri.
This work was written for and first published on LawInSport.com (unless otherwise stated) and the copyright is owned by LawInSport Ltd. Permission is granted to make digital or hard copies of this work (or part, or abstracts, of it) for personal use provided copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage, and provided that all copies bear this notice and full citation on the first page (which should include the URL, company name (LawInSport), article title, author name, date of the publication and date of use) of any copies made. Copyright for components of this work owned by parties other than LawInSport must be honoured.