Integrity in sports update: South Africa's Premier Soccer League rocked by match-fixing allegations

Weekly Media Recap 11-17 May 2015

This week, in an article on the consequences of match-fixing for the economic future of sport, a representative of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) highlighted the vulnerability of older players who have not looked after the money they earned when they were at the top. As part of the PFA’s prevention efforts, its life skills programme for young player includes a section on financial realities of the world of football.

Meanwhile in South Africa, a Premier Soccer League (PSL) club has reported an alleged match-fixing case to the PSL, suggesting that incentives were offered to individuals in the football fraternity, related to the 2014/15 Absa Premiership season’s relegation battle.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

South Africa

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has reportedly been rocked by match-fixing/ game-manipulation allegations. According to sources, a PSL club has allegedly reported an alleged match-fixing case to the PSL, suggesting that incentives were offered to individuals in the football fraternity, related to the 2014/15 Absa Premiership season’s relegation battle. The 2014/15 league campaign came to a close last weekend which saw AmaZulu automatically relegated to the NFD and Moroka Swallows ending in 15th position, meaning that the Dube Birds will be involved in the PSL promotional playoffs. There have been unconfirmed reports that Swallows have brought the alleged match-fixing case to the PSL. The match-fixing allegations were reportedly discussed at the Premier Soccer League (PSL) Executive Committee (EXCO) meeting and standard procedures will now be followed. Contacted for comment on the allegations, the PSL’s CEO, Brand De Villiers, confirmed that he has informed the board of the allegations.

Source: "PSL Facing Match Fixing Allegations", 13 May 2015, Soccer Laduma, https://www.soccerladuma.co.za/news/articles/categories/south-africa/the-psl-has-been-rocked-by-match-fixing-game-manipulating-allegations/209516

 

ILLEGAL BETTING

Vietnam

The trial of 59 Vietnamese people allegedly involved in a transnational online gambling ring began on Tuesday. Investigators reportedly have records of nearly 12,000 accounts with total transaction values of over VND2 trillion. The accounts were allegedly opened on “a foreign online gambling website named M88”, according to Xinhua agency. The most common form of gambling was said to be betting on football matches. Local police are said still to be seeking some Vietnamese allegedly involved, including Nguyen Vo Hoai Tram, director of a local company, accused of acting as the first M88 agent in Vietnam from 2010 to January 2013. According to the indictment, some defendants acted as intermediaries between foreign bookmakers and local bettors, opening multiple accounts to receive money from bettors and then allegedly transferring the money to bookmakers abroad. Other defendants allegedly made wagers ranging from VND90 million to as much as VND9 billion. One of the six defendants is Cu Huy Giap, who allegedly opened and used six M88 accounts to transfer more than VND629 billion.

Source: "Suspected US$92 mln gambling ring tried in Vietnam", 13 May 2015, ggrasia, https://www.ggrasia.com/suspected-us92-mln-gambling-ring-tried-in-vietnam/

 

ODDS AND ENDS

New Zealand Olympic Committee

The importance and protection of clean and honest competition was underlined by the New Zealand Olympic Committee at its general assembly in Auckland on Thursday. The NZOC introduced a new Integrity Regulation at the assembly, essentially strengthening its framework and policies around issues such as doping, match-fixing and illegal betting. Chief executive Kereyn Smith said the new regulation was another vital step towards ensuring the highest standards of integrity were maintained in the New Zealand sporting system.

Source: Marc Hinton, "Sports integrity main focus at NZ Olympic Committee general assembly ", 14 May 2015, Stuff, https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/other-sports/68540800/sports-integrity-main-focus-at-nz-olympic-committee-general-assembly

Professional Footballers' Association

Football, cricket, snooker, and horse-racing, to name a few - have all been hit by match-fixing scandals in recent years. As well as breaking sports' rules, and the moral ones of fair play, the criminal gangs behind the match-fixing are also inflicting huge potential damage on the economics of sports. Sporting credibility is damaged, spectators are denied a fair spectacle, and the value that commercial partners such as sponsors and broadcasters put on a tainted sport will fall.

Former Blackburn Rovers and QPR player Simon Barker is deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), and also a member of the Sports Betting Group, set up to help prevent corrupt betting activity. He says match-fixing approaches often take place lower down the football tree, and with players who have not looked after the money they earned when they were at the top. In order to stop the players of tomorrow being out of pocket and susceptible to match-fixers the PFA, as part of its life skills programme, teaches young players aged 16 to 18 coming into the game basic financial realities, including that an earning career in football might be short. He says the factors a sport should have in place to make it more robust to match-fixing approaches are player education, intelligence gathering, information sharing, a robust disciplinary processes, and a clear sanctions regime.

Source: Bill Wilson, "How match fixers can cripple a sport's economic future", 17 May 2015, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-32720777

Tanzania

The 2014/15 Mainland Premier League season ended last weekend amid controversies, with some quarters suggesting that there were elements of match-fixing and demanded investigations. Seven matches were on card last Saturday to close the league’s curtain and it was clear that at least 11 teams out of 14 were fighting relegation; and this is why there was every possibility for match-fixing. Apparently, there were complaints regarding a few matches.

For quite some time now, the local football fraternity has been affected by claims that suggest match fixing and bribes, such as players being accused of sabotage and of being paid money to influence results. Match-fixing tendencies hamper the progress of sport as it goes against all principles of fair play.

Source: "Time to tackle matchfixing in Tanzania", 15 May 2015, Daily News, https://www.dailynews.co.tz/index.php/dailynews/44872-time-to-tackle-matchfixing-in-tanzania

United Kingdom

Partick Thistle's Steven Lawless has been accused of breaching Scottish Football Association rules by allegedly betting on 513 games. It is claimed the 24-year-old midfielder placed the bets between December 2012 and March 2015. He has been called to appear before an SFA-appointed judicial panel on Thursday, 21 May. The SFA notice of complaint stresses there is no evidence of Lawless betting on games involving his own team. SFA disciplinary rule 33 prohibits players, coaches, club officials and referees in Scotland from betting on football anywhere in the world. Lawless played in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Hamilton, two days after the Glasgow club announced that they were conducting their own internal investigation into the gambling allegations.

Source: "Partick Thistle: Steven Lawless to answer SFA gambling charge", 14 May 2015, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/32745670

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Belgium

Lower league Belgian football club, Sporting West Harelbeke has been relegated by the Control Commission of the Belgian Football Federation for attempted bribery. The club is to start the championship with a 12 point handicap and to face a fine of the equivalent of 5% of its gross annual revenue. Harelbeke announced it will appeal the decision.

The case dates back to November 2014, when Harelbeke’s main sponsor, Laurens Monteyne approached Ingelmunster’s goalkeeper, Bram Paepe, one week before the match between the two clubs.
The club denies any wrongdoing and claims it had no knowledge of the approach made by its sponsor.

Source: "Accusé de corruption, Harelbeke rétrogradé en provinciale", 14 May 2015, 7sur7, https://www.7sur7.be/7s7/fr/1508/Sports/article/detail/2321287/2015/05/14/Accuse-de-corruption-Harelbeke-retrograde-en-provinciale.dhtml

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