AFC investigates possible match-fixing at Asian Games and UEFA poised to tackle TPO

Weekly Media Recap 22 -28 September 2014 Published 01 October 2014

Football Inbound

This week, UEFA declared its intentions to tackle third-party ownership of players in Europe, since the practice raises questions of integrity and transparency in the sport. The proposed rules would suggest the setting up of a new body to assess the ownership of players and clamp down on third-party ownership.

Furthermore, this week’s media has also been witness to several investigations and sentences. In Georgia, eight football referees have been arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing, whilst thirteen Estonian and two Slovakian football players have had their bans extended worldwide by FIFA. In addition, the Asian Football Confederation is also investigating possible match-fixing at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Asian Football Confederation

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is looking into reports of possible match-fixing at the Incheon Asian Games, the continental governing body said on Saturday. An official of the betting-related data provider Sportradar recently told a Singapore newspaper about possible match-fixing in Incheon without revealing which teams were involved. "Following recent reports of possible match manipulation at the Incheon Asian Games 2014 football competition, the AFC would like to confirm that we are closely monitoring the situation," the AFC said in a statement. The soccer body said it was collaborating with the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), which organises Asian Games, to look into the matter. "We are also working hand in hand with Sportradar to thoroughly review the provided information on suspicious betting patterns. Match-fixing is rampant in Asia with cases being reported across the continent, including recent scandals in Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia. The AFC is determined to eradicate match fixing in Asia and we will ensure that no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of our goal," the Kuala Lumpur-based body said.

Source: Amlan Chakraborty and Pritha Sarkar, "AFC says looking into match-fixing allegations at Incheon", 27 September 2014, Reuters, https://in.reuters.com/article/2014/09/27/games-asian-afc-fixing-idINKCN0HM0DC20140927

Georgia

Eight football referees of 16-team Georgian football league have been arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing in matches, the Interior Ministry said on September 24. The scheme, according to the Interior Ministry, involved so called spot betting in which odds are offered to number of yellow and red cards, as well as on penalties or other incidents during the match. Eight referees, among them a FIFA referee qualified to officiate at international level, are accused of taking cash ranging from USD 2,500 to USD 5,000 in exchange for securing favorable number of bookings in matches they were officiating. Georgian Football Federation said in a statement that the investigation was launched after it requested “for a number of times” from the law enforcement agencies to probe into “information received from UEFA about suspicious matches in the Georgian national championship.” “There have long been rumors about it,” Zviad Sichinava, president of the Georgian Football Association, said about spot and match-fixing allegations. He stressed that the investigation should continue, but instead of focusing only on referees the probe should widen in order to also include much wider circle of illegal betting groups.

Source: "8 Referees Arrested in Alleged Football Spot-Fixing", 24 September 2014, Civil Georgia, https://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=27683

Hong Kong

A former Happy Valley captain and assistant coach accused of asking a teammate to throw a soccer game last year has been cleared of match-fixing. Fan Weijun, 35, was acquitted of incitement to commit conspiracy at Eastern Court. Fan was originally charged with conspiracy to defraud, but that charge was amended on Tuesday. He had pleaded not guilty to the original and the amended charge. The court previously heard that Fan had attempted to fix a Senior Shield match between his team and Sun Pegasus in December. A day before the game, he rang then reserve goalkeeper Leung Man-lai to ask him “to lose three to four goals”, the prosecution alleged. In court, Deputy Magistrate Colin Wong Sze-cheung said he could not convict Fan based solely on that evidence, noting that Leung failed to recall other parts of the alleged phone conversation. Wong said the words could have been taken out of context, and noted that Leung had agreed with Fan’s lawyer Albert Poon that they could have been intended to be motivational. The deputy magistrate also said that just because Leung had helped the investigation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, that did not necessarily mean Leung’s own judgment about what had happened was correct.

Source: "Ex-Happy Valley soccer player found not guilty in match-fixing trial", 24 September 2014, South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1599597/ex-happy-valley-soccer-player-found-not-guilty-match-fixing-trial

Laos

The Laos Football Federation (LFF) will conduct an investigation, if required, into allegations that two of Laos’ group matches at the Asian Games in Incheon were corruptly influenced, said LFF general secretary Rasphone Xaybandith. Suspicions of match-fixing surfaced at the Games’ men’s under-23 football competition, after sports betting analysis firm Sportradar told The New Paper that unusual betting patterns from three matches — Laos’ defeats to Malaysia (0-4) and Saudi Arabia (0-3), and Nepal’s 4-0 loss to Iraq — have come under scrutiny. Laos exited the competition after losing all three of their matches in Group A. Twenty-nine nations competed in the men’s under-23 football tournament at the Games, with the round of 16 currently under way in the battle for one of the Asiad’s most coveted gold medals. But the spectre of match-fixing could threaten the Games’ reputation, particularly after Tajikistan defender Khurshed Beknazarov’s expulsion for failing a drugs test.

Source: "Laos promises probe into match-fixing allegations if needed", 26 September 2014, Today Online, https://www.todayonline.com/sports/laos-promises-probe-match-fixing-allegations-if-needed

Spain

A Spanish state prosecutor has summoned players for questioning over possible match-fixing in a 2011 Spanish league game between Levante and Real Zaragoza. The state prosecutor’s office in Madrid said in an email that it “has started procedures to investigate match-fixing and has summoned players implicated for questioning on 3 October”. The match under investigation was played during the last round of the 2010-11 season. Zaragoza won 2-1 at Levante with two goals from the current Atlético Madrid captain Gabi. That victory saved Zaragoza from relegation. In June 2013, the Spanish league president, Javier Tebas, included the Levante v Zaragoza match in a list of nine matches that the league was investigating for possible match-fixing. It is the second Levante match in recent years to have come under suspicion of match-fixing. If the state prosecutor finds evidence of a crime the case will be brought to a judge. Match-fixing is a crime in Spain and can lead to prison sentences for individuals and a club being banned from official competition.

Source: "Spanish prosecutor summons players over possible match-fixing", 25 September 2014, Associated Press, https://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/sep/25/spain-prosecutor-summons-match-fixing-levante-real-zaragoza

 

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