INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Bi-Weekly Bulletin - 14-27 November 2016

In this edition of the bi-weekly bulletin, we give the floor to Mr Severin Moritzer, CEO of Play Fair Code in Austria. In this article, Mr Moritzer discusses the best practices educating athletes and those involved in sports, as well as allying with other organisations with the similar goal of tackling corruption in sport.

Investigations in match-fixing are becoming more detailed as the International Cricket Council is seeking new power to allow them to examine players' personal devices, including messaging applications such as Whatsapp to gather evidence. With the advancement in technology, the sport federations and law enforcement are seeking to keep ahead of criminals.

As the year draws to a close, the Integrity in Sports Unit is still involved in many events around the world in the upcoming month to raise awareness on the severity of match-fixing, among other crimes in sports.

 

Severin Moritzer

 

      THE FLOOR TO... 

       Mr Severin Moritzer, CEO Play Fair Code 

Prior to 2012, the complex set of questions relating to how to deal with the controversial issues of match-fixing and betting fraud had never been tackled in a comprehensive manner in Austria. This changed substantially when the Austrian Ministry of Sport, the Austrian Football Association (AFA) and the Austrian Football League collectively founded the Association for Protecting the Integrity in Sport. Using the brand name ‘Play Fair Code’ in its day-to-day activities, the association has subsequently been joined by a series of other major sports stakeholders, including the Austrian Federal Sports Organisation, the Austrian Olympic Committee, the Austrian Ski Federation, the Bookmakers’ Federation, the Austrian Lotteries and the Austrian Ice Hockey League (Erste Bank Eishockey Liga), together with a range of Austrian betting providers. The operating strategy of the Play Fair Code, which was laid down as soon as the organisation was founded and remains clearly defined, lies in prevention and monitoring, and has included the creation of an ombudsman facility to receive communications related to match-fixing in Austrian sport. From the very beginning the Play Fair Code applied a top-down education strategy, with professional athletes (including future professional athletes) constituting the first target group, followed by the interface between professional, semi-professional and amateur athletes, referees and sport representatives. Since 2012, all players in Austria’s top two professional leagues plus the third-highest Austrian division, the Austrian Football Association’s national teams (both men’s and women’s football and youth teams), players at its youth academies and the country’s top match officials have been trained using a tool developed especially for professional footballers, professional youth team players, referees and linesmen. Experience to date has confirmed that the one-to-one athlete education approach is a sustainable and verifiable model of raising awareness and understanding. It also provides a means to speak directly about the penalties for involvement in match-fixing, such as criminal law prosecution, consequences from the point of view of the AFA’s regulations, labour law implications and, last but not least, the loss of social reputation. With the idea of creating incentives for informants, the Play Fair Code, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sport, has set up an ombudsman’s office since 1 February 2014 as a confidential first point of contact for athletes and participants in sport in the event of issues related to match-fixing. The contacts have been extensively promoted in the Austrian world of sport, and they can be reached by e-mail or telephone around the clock. They are available to help and offer advice free of charge, to receive information and tips about match-fixing that is either being planned or has already taken place, and to investigate the concern. The ombudsman’s office is required to treat any information it receives from informants in total confidence, and it can be contacted anonymously. Working in close collaboration and harmony with the informant/person seeking advice – and, most importantly of all, only ever with their explicit agreement – the ombudsman will then contact the Play Fair Code, in order to find a tailored solution, together with the sports association involved. Combating match-fixing demands far-reaching and ongoing efforts from sports associations, law enforcement agencies, betting operators, governmental institutions and other stakeholders. The Play Fair Code has dealt with these demands now for more than four years, gaining experience and developing know-how and good practices by acquiring and involving the relevant stakeholders and exchanging best-practice approaches on a national and international level. With the prospect of a national platform being established in the future in the context of Austrias signature of the EPAS convention against match-fixing on 2 June 2016, it is satisfying that some milestones have already been achieved in Austria with the Play Fair Code. www.playfaircode.at

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Italy

The match-fixing case involving Marco Cecchinato is far from ending smoothly. The Italian sports authority received an appeal from the public prosecutor on behalf of the Italian tennis Federation against the decision of the Court of Appeal of reducing Cecchinato's ban from 18 to 12 months and the fine from €40,000 to €20,000. The appeal also included the reduction of penalty on Riccardo Accardi and Antonio Campo, who had attemped to fix matches. Acciardi saw his ban being reduced from 12 to 10 months and the fine from €10,000 to €5,000, while there was no reduction in the €4,000 fine imposed on Campo. For Cecchinato and Acciardi, the authorities have asked for at least a three-year ban. The Court of Appeal had said that there wasn't any plan to fix the matches. The biggest accusation towards Cecchinato at first was the fact that he had fixed the match played against Kamil Majchrzak in the Mohammedia Challenger in October 2015. A few weeks before playing this match, Cecchinato, angry because they had lost a bet on an Italian football match, had said to his friend Riccardo Accardi, who was the one to bet, that they could consolidate only with the money earned in Morocco. But according to the Tribunal, Cecchinato intended to get a good result in the tournament so that he could earn a good amount of prize money. He had told Accardi to bet for a win of his opponent because was not feeling well and not because he wanted to lose intentionally.

Source: Gatto Luigi, "Marco Cecchinato faces three-year ban for match-fixing", 18 November 2016, Tennis World USA https://www.tennisworldusa.org/news/news/Tennis_Stories/38393/marco-cecchinato-faces-threeyear-ban-for-matchfixing/ 

United Kingdom 

A non-league manager banned for betting staked more than £2,200 on his team to lose a specific game, the Football Association has revealed. Nick Bunyard was given a three-year ban and fined £3,000 on 9 November, after placing 45 bets against his own teams. In releasing their written reasons for the ban, the FA said that Bunyard made a £1,436 profit when his Frome Town side lost at Weymouth on 2 April 2016. The FA commission accepted Bunyard was not involved in match-fixing. In total, Bunyard breached regulations with 97 bets, staking a total of £6,888.24 at an average of £71 per bet, producing a net profit of £2,612.74. Of the 73 bets he placed on matches involving either Frome Town or former club Paulton Rovers, he made a net profit of £1,924.29. Relating to the 2-0 loss to Weymouth, Bunyard placed 19 bets on the match, using four different markets, with four different betting operators. The bets he placed on Frome to lose - totalling £2,201 - included a specific market that they would do so by more than 1.5 goals - and Weymouth's second goal was scored in the 89th minute. However, the FA stressed that is was "not their case that Bunyard was involved in 'fixing' or influencing the outcome of any of the matches in which he placed bets on his own team to lose [or to win]". An outfield player played in goal for Frome in the match at Weymouth because they had four registered goalkeepers unavailable, the FA statement revealed. Frome, who play in England's seventh tier, have said that Bunyard's three-year ban was "excessive" in comparison to more high-profile cases. FA rules prohibit "all those involved in the game" from betting on football "that takes place anywhere in the world". The defence Bunyard put to the commission stated that the bets against his teams had "not been done as a calculated way to profit, but were based on unavoidable facts about injured, suspended or unavailable players" and were attempts to "soften the blow" if they lost. He told BBC Somerset that betting "is part of the culture of football," and, since the ban, he has announced his retirement from the game.

Source: "Nick Bunyard: Banned non-league manager 'bet £2,200 on his side to lose one match'", 21 November 2016, BBC Sport https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/38058165

  

Zimbabwe

ZIFA have suspended Bulawayo City head coach Philani “Beefy”Ncube and club chairman Jerry Sibanda over a match fixing incident in the Premier Soccer League. According to ZIFA both individuals were complicit in the attempt to manipulate the outcome of a Premier Soccer League match between Border Strikers and Bulawayo City at Dulivadzimu stadium on 3 August 2016. The Premier Soccer league disciplinary committee has already banned former technical members Farai Mujokoro and Gift Mvala for five years for the incident. The pair attempted to give Border Strikers goalkeeper Talent Sande money to throw a game in Bulawayo City’s favour but were exposed after a trap was set up. According to ZIFA Sibanda and Ncube have been provisionally suspended by the Zimbabwe Football Association Executive Committee and the two are immediately barred from participating in association football activities in Zimbabwe. The ZIFA Executive Committee agreed that Sibanda and Ncube had shown absolute disdain and disregard of the ZIFA constitution by their unsportsmanlike conduct which intransigently violates Article 2 (e) and Article 7 of the ZIFA constitution. Disciplinary proceedings for the suspended officials will be instituted in due course.

Source: "Beefy and Sibanda suspended by ZIFA", 15 November 2016, Soccer24 Zimbabwe, https://www.soccer24.co.zw/2016/11/15/15035/ 

 

MODUS OPERANDI

Cyprus

The entrance to an insurance company headed by under-fire Cyprus Football Association (CFA) boss Costakis Koutsokoumnis has been bombed in the latest ugly protest against his leadership. According to Limassol investigators, the blast occurred in the early hours of Thursday morning causing extensive damage but no injuries in what was the second explosion at the same offices in four years. Media sources claimed that Koutsokoumnis told investigators that he suspected “underworld figures involved with match-fixing” were behind the explosion which occurred while Koutsokoumnis was in Greece at the behest of FIFA, ironically in an effort to mediate a deal between the Greek FA and the government over the ongoing crisis in Greek football. Koutsokoumnis is a symbol of hate among many Cypriot fans, partly because of his efforts to re-unite Greek and Turkish Cypriot football on the divided island. He recently announced sweeping measures in a bid to eradicate match-fixing, under pressure from UEFA which suspects six first-division matches and a domestic cup match may have been fixed since September. According to Marios Lefkaritis, a vice president at UEFA and honorary president of the CFA, files on 75 matches suspected of being fixed since 2011 are being processed.

Koutsokoumnis has been CFA President since 2001 but according to agency reports has been accused of using his position to bolster his position within the ranks of FIFA and UEFA rather than prioritising more pressing domestic issues. Even though he is endeavouring to stamp out match-fixing, Cypriot football continues to be plagued by other problems such as hooliganism, while there is discontent over the numbers of foreign players in the countsy. Cyprus has the highest number of foreign imports of any top division in Europe and according to world players’ union (FIFPro) has one of the worst reputations in the world for players being left unpaid, largely as a result of clubs being in severe debt. Within hours of the latest bombing incident, Cyprus’ top sports official urged lawmakers to pass legislation enabling authorities to tap suspects’ telephones and access bank accounts in the fight against match-fixing. Cleanthis Georgiades, president of Cyprus Sports Organisation, said the situation was now out of control. “If authorities are going to stamp this out, legislation must be passed that unties their hands because it’s wiretapping that helps crack such cases,” he told The Associated Press.

Source: Andrew Warshaw, "Cypriot FA chief says bomb blast was work of ‘underworld match-fixers’", 18 November 2016, Inside World Football https://www.insideworldfootball.com/2016/11/18/cypriot-fa-chief-says-bomb-blast-work-underworld-match-fixers/ 

 

BETTING

United States

Casino owners in the U.S. will renew their push to legalize sports betting at their properties, according to an executive with the gambling industry’s main trade association. Industry lobbyists will be seeking a sponsor next year for legislation to overturn a 1992 ban on the betting, according to Sara Rayme, a senior vice president for the Washington-based American Gaming Association. The election of Donald Trump, who once ran four casinos bearing his name, could help pave the way. “He was a former casino owner, he understands the business,” Rayme said in an interview. Only four states -- Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon -- are allowed to offer betting on athletic competitions under a federal law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Some $149 billion in illegal sports bets are placed annually, according to the association. Sports betting promoters have sought legalization for years, but have run into opposition from some leagues and groups opposed to gambling in general. New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting in its casinos were blocked by federal courts. “I’m OK with it, because it’s happening anyway,” Trump said in an interview last year on Fox Sports 1. “Whether you have it or don’t have it, you have it. It’s all over the place.” The issue is different from online gambling, which is legal in three states. The industry is split on whether consumers should be allowed to bet online, with some casino operators, most notably Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, opposed. The gaming association used Friday’s announcement of the proposed merger of DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc., two daily fantasy sports companies, to renew its call for change. “DraftKings and FanDuel have sped up the debate on legalizing sports betting by demonstrating its popularity and mainstream nature,” Rayme said in a statement. “We’re building on the momentum created by DFS to remove the federal ban on sports betting.

Source: Christopher Palmeri, "Casinos to Seek Legal Sports Betting With Trump in White House", 18 November 2016, Bloomberg https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-18/casinos-to-seek-legal-sports-betting-with-trump-in-white-house 

 

GOOD PRACTICES

World

Cricketers suspected of match-fixing will be forced to surrender their phones to the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) before the start of every match's play under fresh plans to tackle corruption. While confirming the news, chairman of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit Sir Ronnie Flanaghan said he would seek new powers from the world's cricket governing body that would allow them to examine players' personal devices, including messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Snapchat as well as the so-called dark web. "As the world changes and as people use different means of communicating with each other through social media - Whatsapp, Snapchat, all of these things - we have to keep ahead of these things. One extension [of ACU powers] we might seek is that, instead of just asking for a player's billing records, might we actually, like tennis, seek the ability to take the devices and download them to see what communications had been made upon them," Flanaghan was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. The increasing powers will be similar to those of the Tennis Integrity Unit, who monitor suspicious activity across men's and women's tennis. The ACU is currently authorised to only demand phone records from players being investigated. Besides this, the ICC is also investigating other ways to find evidence of match-fixing, including consulting experts about how to use the deep web (parts of the web not indexed by search engines) and the dark web (parts of the web that require specific software or authorization). "In order to thwart the intentions of corruptors, we are constantly exploring how they attempt to communicate with players, including the use of various social media networks, and indeed including what some describe as the dark web or the deep web," said Flanagan, who already had informal talks with some ICC members and expects his proposal to be considered by the ICC board in early 2017. Flanagan pointed out that there was a need for cricket to work with other sports as corruptors do not confine themselves to one sport and are instead interested in every game. Flanaghan, who is a retired senior police officer, also revealed that the ACU was close to signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UK's National Crime Agency which would enable the sharing of information on future suspected fixing cases. The development comes in the week when former South Africa batsman Alviro Petersen was charged with match-fixing by his country's governing body as part of an investigation into corruption, in which five players have already been banned. 

Source: "ICC to monitor social data of cricketers suspected of match-fixing", 16 November 2016, Big News Network, https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/249443677/icc-to-monitor-social-data-of-cricketers-suspected-of-match-fixing 

 

INTEGRITY IN SPORT EVENTS 

INTERPOL/IOC

National Workshop

1 December 2016 Kiev, Ukraine

The INTERPOL Integrity in Sports Unit and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will host a National Workshop in Kiev, Ukraine addressed to Law Enforcement, Sport federations, prosecutors, and the betting industry.

International Sport Convention

Sports Integrity Conference

7-8 December 2016 Geneva, Switzerland 

The International Sports Convention is hosting a sports convention on 7-8 December 2016 at the Palexpo Center, Geneva, Switzerland. This conference is supported by the World Lottery Association and European Lottery. For further information and registration, please refer to the provided link: https://iscgeneva.com/conferences-and-masterclasses/conferences/sports-integrity/ 

 

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