Match-fixing update: FIFA prepares for World Cup, UEFA warns Euro U17s, and Stephen Lee appeal dismissed

Weekly Media Recap 12 - 18 May 2014 Published 22 May 2014

Interpol Blog Recap

Good practice


The threat of organised crime gangs targeting Australian sport will be the subject of a police symposium in Melbourne on Wednesday, as one expert warns of a looming ''tsunami of corruption''.

The event comes less than a year after four players and the coach of the premier league Southern Stars soccer club were accused of being involved in an international match-fixing syndicate. Victoria Police has rallied sports organisations and integrity bodies to discuss match fixing and corruption. 

Source: Rania Spooner, "A 'tsunami of corruption' headed for Australian sport, police warned", 13 May 2014, The Age newspaper



The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), announced today the signing of a formal cooperation agreement with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) aimed at intensifying the ongoing work to combat match-fixing in football. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two organizations will enhance joint efforts to safeguard the integrity of the sport through the sharing of resources and experiences in relation to sports integrity initiatives.

Source: "CONCACAF to Fight Match-Fixing Alongside Interpol", 12 May 2014, Soccerly 



Protecting the integrity of the game was top of mind during a joint FIFA-INTERPOL Workshop, officially opened by CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice President, Jeffrey Webb. The workshop, entitled ‘Train the Trainer for Football Players and Referees’ will be delivered over a 3-day period by INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport Programme Manager, Julie Norris. The course, which is aligned with INTERPOL’s Guide for Effective Training to ensure consistency of standards globally, has over 25 participants from a cross section of areas within CONCACAF, and a Major League Soccer Representative. “Interpol is pleased to help enhance CONCACAF’s capacity and that of its Member Associations in training targets of match-fixers to recognize, resist and report approaches, to ultimately preventing match- fixing,” said Dr. Noris. Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to facilitate the recognition of match fixing propositions and specifically address issues of corruption. This is the fourth workshop on sports integrity in our region since 2012, and we embrace the opportunity to share this knowledge with key stakeholders, to keep the sanctity of our game intact,” added Webb.

Source: "Protecting Integrity of Football Remains a Priority for CONCACAF", 15 May 2014, The Cayman Reporter



With the 2014 world cup kicking-off in less than a month, the responsible and organizing international football body FIFA is setting up to counter any possibilities of match-fixing throughout the tournament. FIFA security chief Ralf Mutschke said back in March that the concern has to do with players from poorer countries who might be tempted to take part in such ominous activities. Over 400 gambling operators from all over the world have signed up to assist FIFA in its fight against match fixing on the upcoming world cup, with agreements between FIFA and big regulators like Malta's Lotteries and Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission and the Gibraltar Gambling Commission. FIFA's main match-fixing combating tool is its Early Warning System (EWS). Put in place in 2007, the EWS has already monitored the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and many other tournaments such as Central America's CONCACAF, the Olympics, the Confederations Cup, the Beach Soccer World Cup and more. The EWS relies on both technical and interpersonal means, using its systems to monitor and analyze betting markets around the world but also employing information transmitted by its vast network of contacts including professional punters, operators and regulators, sports journalists and more.

Source: "Cup Gambling Operators Join FIFA's Anti Match-fixing Coalition for Brazil 2014 World", 16 May 2014, Casino Reports


Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Football Association says it is working on an action plan to tackle match-fixing and corruption following a key meeting with Interpol last month. First Division clubs Happy Valley and Tuen Mun were suspended from the league in January after players were arrested by the ICAC amid an investigation into alleged match-fixing. The HKFA found the clubs had brought the game into disrepute. The partners and stakeholders will meet again in August to assess progress and develop the strategy to eliminate match-fixing and corruption in Hong Kong football. The HKFA revealed on Thursday that it held a meeting with representatives from Interpol, Fifa, the Hong Kong Police Force, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Home Affairs Bureau (sport and recreation branch) and Hong Kong Jockey Club on April 7. The meeting was held “in an attempt to be proactive and tackle any match-fixing and corruption issues in Hong Kong football”. In a statement, the HKFA said: “The purpose of the meeting was to develop a national coordinated framework to prevent future incidents of match-fixing and prepare an action plan for the HKFA and other stakeholders.

Source: "Hong Kong Football Association to tackle match-fixing following Interpol meeting", 15 May 2014, South China Morning Post



The eight teams at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship have been given a presentation informing and warning them about the threat posed by match-fixing. "If you're involved in match-fixing, you receive a red card for life." This is the message delivered by UEFA disciplinary inspector João Leal at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship.All eight teams competing at the finals have been given a presentation warning them of the threat posed by match-fixing. Leal emphasised that the idea of the outcome of a game being decided in advance is an attack on the very core of football. "At kick-off, everybody must be equal," he said. UEFA has a zero-tolerance approach to match-fixing and continues to analyse the betting patterns of thousands of games. Leal explained to the players, assembled at the teams' hotel in Mellieha, northern Malta, that match-fixing not only encompasses the overall outcome of a fixture. It can include almost anything that can be bet on, such as the number of yellow cards, goals, fouls or substitutes.

Source: Tom Kell, "U17s warned of 'red card' for match-fixing", 13 May 2014, UEFA News 


Odds and ends


A new study revealing that $140bn (£83bn) in illicit funds are laundered through illegal betting markets annually has prompted renewed calls for governments to step up their efforts to tackle the problem, and associated match-fixing issues. A two-year study by the Paris-Sorbonne University and the International Centre for Sport Security estimated the overall size of the market at between $200bn and $500bn, more than 80% of which is wagered on illegal markets.But while the illegal markets in Asia and the Far East are regularly blamed for allowing corruption to flourish, with new high-profile fixing cases in football, cricket and other sports emerging on a regular basis, the report also highlighted the influence of the lightly-regulated "grey" market. The report calls for more cooperation between government, sports governing bodies and the legal bookmaking industry to attack the problem from both ends. Among its recommendations are the creation of a sports betting tax to finance investigations into match-fixing and illegal betting, a move that would go down badly with the betting industry.It also calls for an integrity risk assessment and management system for sports organisations and an outright ban on players, coaches and administrators betting on competitions and matches in their sport.

Source: "Illegal betting markets launder £83bn a year, reveals report", 15 May 2014, The Guardian


New Zealand

The former Black Cap Lou Vincent has reportedly told the International Cricket Council that match-fixing occurred in New Zealand when playing for Auckland. Britain's Telegraph newspaper says Vincent's provided the ICC anti-corruption unit of details of match fixing in four countries, including when he played for Auckland in the domestic competition. He also reportedly admitted trying to persuade one Lancashire team-mate to participate in a fix while playing county cricket in England, but the player reported the approach to the authorities. Another county player is believed to have agreed to fix before backing out. A statement from New Zealand Cricket says no games played in New Zealand are being investigated by the ICC, no current New Zealand players are under investigation and no match involving the Black Caps is being investigated.

Source: "Match-fixing in NZ cricket - report", 15 May 2014, Radio New Zealand 



Vietnam's tarnished V-League have called in the police and will employ referees from Australia and Japan for key matches in the second half of the season in a bid to prevent another match-fixing scandal, local media reported.

Last month, Cup holders Vissai Ninh Binh were kicked out of the league for the remainder of the campaign after 11 of their players admitted to taking money to fix a match in the regional AFC Cup tournament. Despite the admission, the club has been allowed to continue in the AFC Cup and beat Churchill Brothers of India 4-2 this week to advance to the quarter-finals. The head of the V-League's referee board Nguyen Van Mui did not say which matches the foreign officials would take charge of in the second half of the campaign, which runs from June 27 to Aug. 10. "It's time that we give a strong commitment towards improving the quality of football," Mui was quoted as saying by Vietnamese media. "The organising committee also invited the police to give lectures at training as well as supervise the championship."

Source: Patrick Johnston, "Vietnam to employ foreign referees to battle match-fixing", 16 May 2014, Reuters 




Three Ottawa men caught operating betting websites pleaded guilty Friday to a variety of charges related to running an illegal gaming operation.Benedetto Manasserri, 50, Stephen Parrish, 36, and Domenic Arrechi, 48, will be sentenced later. Another senior member of the syndicate, Gary Saikaley, was sentenced in April to 18 months jail. Headed initially by Arrechi and Manasserri and latterly by Saikaley, the websites took bets on all manner of sporting events including car races, football and golf games. The gang recruited customers from the gambling world, gave them a website address, a user identification and a password, said police. According to an investigators’ report: “Most book makers will do a background check on new bettors to determine if the bettor is able to pay if they lose their wagers and to ensure they are not a law-enforcement officer.” The gang was arrested after an undercover operation by Ontario Provincial Police and RCMP organized crime investigators, who tapped their phones and searched their homes.

Source: "Ottawa trio admit running illegal gambling website", 16 May 2014, Ottawa Citizen 


United Kingdom

The Snooker player Stephen Lee's appeal against a 12-year ban for match-fixing has been dismissed. The former world number five was found guilty of seven charges after a tribunal hearing in September 2013. Lee, 39, had also appealed against having to pay £40,000 costs, which have now been increased to £75,000. The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) said he was involved in "the worst case of snooker corruption we've seen". The total costs awarded against him now amounts to £105,000. He was ordered to pay £30,000 in costs after the first part of his appeal, which had alleged bias at the original tribunal, was rejected.

Source: "Stephen Lee: Appeal against 12-year ban dismissed", 15 May 2014, BBC 

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