Match-fixing update: Hong Kong reveals World Cup illegal betting seizures, and Council of Europe tackles sports manipulation
Weekly Media Recap 6 - 13 July 2014
Published 17 July 2014
Three people are under investigation in connection with alleged match fixing, according to police spokesperson Andreas Angelides, who told the Cyprus Mail that officers raided their homes yesterday to collect evidence linking them to the case.
The three are suspected to have engaged in match fixing by betting large sums of money on Cyprus top division matches, on an unauthorised betting website. Angelides was quoted on the Sigma live website as saying that this investigation is part of a larger match fixing investigation, numbering a total of 16 cases. Those cases were reported by the Cyprus Football Association (CFA). CFA sprung into action after receiving 31 “red file matches” from UEFA. Up to now, no person or team in Cyprus has been convicted of match-fixing.
An Athens prosecutor investigating alleged felonies and fraud in Greek soccer has been given the go-ahead by a council of judges to use as part of his investigation secretly recorded telephone conversations that point to the involvement of officials from a top-flight Super League club. According to the prosecutor [ACT 1921/2014] there is evidence that those accused have been involved in bribery and influencing the results of soccer matches. Koreas explains that his investigation was triggered by an August 2012 Kathimerini newspaper report. At that time the former deputy president of the Hellenic Football Federation’s (EPO) Central Refereeing Committee, Christos Savvas, had made allegations concerning how referees were appointed to officiate matches during the 2012-13 season. Koreas has since questioned 15 people, including Greek Football Federration [EPO] officials, referees and club executives. Two club chairmen told Koreas that there is a criminal organization operating within Greek soccer with the aim of controlling the games. Also, a Super League referee told the prosecutor that shortly before what turned out to be the last match he officiated, two EPO officials approached him separately and both told him that he should ensure a specific team won the game.
The Namibian Premier League has been rocked by allegations of match-fixing in last week’s crucial tie between rivals African Stars and Orlando Pirates, state media reported Monday. New Era said Namibian football administrators have called in Interpol after a former top-flight footballer offered N$10,000 (about US$928) to three key players of Orlando Pirates to throw a match held on July 2 that eventually ended in goalless draw. African Stars have distances themselves from the damning allegations, with club chairperson Sedney Martin confirming that an individual approached him and tried to solicit funds as payment to influence the result of the match.
A second report is to be sent to UEFA claiming Aberdeen FC’s match in Riga was fixed. The Evening Express can today reveal anti-corruption watchdog FederBet found alleged suspicious activity in the Asian and Eastern European markets during last night’s 3-0 Europa League win over FK Daugava Riga. On Saturday, it was revealed a dossier was being put together for a UEFA probe into the first leg at Pittodrie, which finished 5-0. Again, the allegations today are not against the Dons in any way. A spokeswoman for UEFA said they will investigate when they receive the report.
CONCACAF’s commitment in the battle against match-fixing took another important step forward last month in Costa Rica. The CONCACAF Integrity Department sent out its first Integrity Officer to educate the heads of refereeing departments from 11 CONCACAF-affiliated member associations about the threats of match-fixing. The presenting CONCACAF Integrity Officer -- Mr. Joseph Ramirez -- is a former General Secretary of the Costa Rican Football Federation and a trained INTERPOL Certified Instructor of Footballers, Referees and Coaches in the Prevention of Match-Fixing. As part of the CONCACAF Integrity Initiative, all participants in an upcoming tournaments and friendly matches will be required to sign an integrity declaration, affirming that they will refrain from any conduct that could damage the integrity of a game, and racist or discriminatory behavior. CONCACAF’s 25 Interpol-certified trainers are qualified to deliver ample instructive information, which will enable members of the football family to recognize, resist and report match-fixing attempts before they lead to actual manipulation.
The Council of Europe (CoE) agreed a convention Wednesday to combat match-fixing and other forms of manipulation in sport. The purpose of the Convention is to prevent, detect and punish manipulation in sports competitions, as well as improve the exchange of information between relevant national authorities, sports organisations and, in particular, betting organisations. Research by the CoE found that there has been a big increase in manipulating sports competitions since the turn of the millennium. This has been largely fuelled by changes in technology and the huge sums of money now involved in many professional sports.
The youth and sports committee of the Legislative Assembly approved the creation of a forum to obtain feedback for the proposal to reform Article 87 of the El Salvador General Law of Sports, an initiative to consider match-fixing as a very serious and punishable offense. According to the Deputy Guillermo Olivo, the forum for the transparency in sports will also serve to create a national referee committee, that will be responsible for investigating and applying sanctions for match- fixing in football or other sport. Two footballers sanctioned for match manipulation will be invited to the forum to present their testimony.
Police in Beijing have arrested a notorious 23-year-old considered China's "number one mistress" as part of a crackdown into a £100bn illegal gambling industry fuelled by betting over the World Cup Finals in Brazil. Guo Meiling, also known as Guo Meimei, was held along with seven others after sharing her thoughts on the World Cup and boasting of huge bets she had made on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, in breach of strict gambling laws. It's thought the self-made celebrity posted her gambling sheet online, saying she had lost a huge amount of money. China's state agency claims the spike in betting which coincides with this year's Brazil World Cup Finals now poses a "severe threat to China's economic security". £100bn a year is being taken out of China's economy and into the coffers of gambling syndicates, mostly betting on football.
The Greek police’s cyber crimes unit has blocked access in Greece to 23 illegal gambling sites that allowed users to bet on World Cup soccer matches. Officers said that the sites’ servers were located outside Greece in places such as Britain, Belize, Austria, Malta, Panama, Russia and Israel and that they were breaking the country’s strict gambling laws.
Hong Kong police confiscated more than HK$350 million in illegal betting records during the World Cup - a nearly sevenfold increase from the amount seized during the first four months of this year. About 100 locations were raided across the city in a month-long operation codenamed "Crowbeak", with 140 suspected illegal bookmakers arrested. Officers seized more than HK$1.8 million in cash and 100 computers, along with mobile phones, televisions and account books. The HK$350 million is in addition to HK$370 million in illegal betting records seized in Hong Kong when officers busted a cross-border gambling syndicate in a joint operation with mainland police on June 8, days before the World Cup kicked off in Brazil. Hong Kong police have been working with Macau and Guangdong authorities, as well as Interpol in eight Asian countries, as part of a task force during the month-long tournament to tackle illegal soccer betting. Gambling-related problems are believed to have led to at least three suicides in the city during the tournament.
Police arrested 12 men and three women suspected of being involved with illegal bookmaking activities on Thursday. At about 4am, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Police Intelligence Department conducted island wide operations at various locations. They arrested 15 suspects aged between 26 and 61, and seized about $860,000 in cash, betting records and computers, mobile phones, laptops and documents. The suspects are believed to have received football bets amounting to an estimated S$880,000 in the past three weeks alone, said the Police in a statement on Friday. Investigations are on going.
Ho Chi Minh City police have deported 33 South Koreans for operating an illegal online gambling service that catered mostly to their countrymen. The violators were slapped with a fine before being deported, a police source said on July 4. In mid-June, police found evidence that they were providing online sports betting services, mostly on football. At the police station, the violators admitted that they supplied the service through a server operated in South Korea by a gambling kingpin. This unidentified person sent them to Vietnam to supply the service only to people outside Vietnam, they said. Organizing gambling in Vietnam is subject to a fine for one's first violation. Repeated violations can carry jail terms of up to 10 years and an additional fine of up to VND100 million.
ODDS AND ENDS
A former captain of Raja Casablanca was ordered Monday to pay around 30,000 euros in fines and damages, after he accused the Moroccan football club of trying to fix matches. Last September, Amin Erbati told a Moroccan newspaper that he was asked several times during the 2012-2013 season to bribe opponents. The Casablanca club eventually won the league, but Erbati's contract was not renewed. The Casablanca court ordered him to pay a 10,000 dirham (900 euro) fine, and damages worth 150,000 dirhams (13,500 euro) to his former club, which has always vigorously denied Erbati's allegations and filed defamation charges against him. He must also pay a fine and damages of the same value to Raja's former coach Mhamed Fakhir, who filed similar charges.
The International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) from England conducted a successful one-day workshop on match-fixing awareness for under-12, 16, 17 and 20 youths of the Tanzania Street Children Academy (TSC) here over the weekend. The ICSS transparency and anti-corruption director, Stuart Page, said that it was a good opportunity for ICSS team to come to Tanzania to raise awareness on match-fixing in order to understand its impact in world soccer. Presenting his paper, Page said the objective of the workshop to Tanzania sports academies is to impart them with skills to "say no" to match-fixing, as when it is detected a player can suffer a life ban. He said that ICSS' aim is to teach and protect players from criminal activities that are rampant all over the world, adding that ICSS is optimistic that TSC players will one day become world champions.
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