INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Bi-Weekly Bulletin - 31 March 2020 - 14 April 2020
Esports: Two players banned for a year after match throwing charge proven
Esports fans in New Zealand have been left stunned as players accused of match manipulation in a recent Rocket League game have been banned from competing for a year.
In a ruling on Wednesday from tournament organiser Let's Play Live, Aiden 'delusioN' Hendry and Finlay 'Frenzyy' Rockach from Team Esper were banned after they were adjudged to have thrown a game in their match against rivals Team Fury in the Let's Play Live Rocket League Oceanic Championship.
They will also forfeit prize winnings from the match, and will be unable to compete in the wider Rocket League Championship Season 9, which boasts a $670,000 prize pool.
A third player from Team Esper, Steve 'SSteve' Berrospi, has been cleared of any wrongdoing from the match, with the investigation and community agreeing he was not involved in the throw.
Source: 8 April 2020,
Patrick Keane suspended and fined for betting on tennis offences
British tennis player Patrick Keane has been suspended from professional tennis for six months and fined $5,000 for betting on tennis offences. Three months of the suspension and $4,500 of the fine are suspended on condition that he commits no further breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP).
On that basis, Mr Keane will serve a three month suspension, effective from 30 March 2020, and pay a fine of $500.
Independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Jane Mulcahy QC adjudicated the case and imposed the disciplinary sanction, noting in mitigation the player’s co-operation, his admission of the offences and that none of the bets involved matches in which he played.
When interviewed as part of a Tennis Integrity Unit investigation into the case, Mr Keane admitted to holding four betting accounts and to placing six bets on tennis matches between 18 August 2019 and 18 September 2019.
As a result, he is suspended from competing in, or attending any sanctioned event organised or recognised by the governing bodies of the sport from Monday 30 March 2020 to Monday 29 June 2020.
All betting on tennis by players and other Covered Persons is strictly prohibited, as per Section D.1.a of the TACP, which states:
“No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, wager, conspire to wager or attempt to wager on the outcome or any other aspect of any Event or any other tennis competition.”
The Tennis Integrity Unit is an initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP and the WTA, who are jointly committed to a zero tolerance approach to corruption in tennis
Source: 1 April 2020,
Integrity Unit Tennis
How coronavirus cripples the New York Mafia
The coronavirus has succeeded where lawmen like Bobby Kennedy and Rudy Giuliani failed for more than a century — by putting the freeze on the mob.
The wholesale cancellation of major sports in the face of the contagion has wiped out tens of millions of dollars in illegal gambling income, a “historic” blow to the Mafia, law enforcement sources told The Post.
“There’s never been a time when they weren’t making money through gambling,” said one insider. “Since the days of Lucky Luciano, when the Five Families started.
“This is historic.”
Thanks to the internet — which replaced the cramped social-distancing nightmares of yesteryear’s wire rooms — it looked as though illegal betting would emerge unscathed during the virus’ early days, sources said.
Then came the postponements and cancellations — the NBA, MLB, March Madness, the NHL, MLS, horse racing and pro golf, to name a few.
With virtually all American sports in an indefinite timeout until the disease burns out, a few dedicated gamblers have tried their hands at wagering on African cricket and Australian soccer matches, sources said, but the underground betting scene has largely gone dry.
“A lot of people are living off that money,” said one source, with the lost lucre estimated to be in the eight figures — and the worst of the disease yet to come.
Other mob mainstays have also been hard hit. The extortion of restaurants has fallen, with eateries ordered closed except for takeout and delivery, and construction rackets had been bringing in the bucks until Gov. Andrew Cuomo halted all non-essential projects on Friday, sources said.
“Construction’s a very big deal because it has a lot of branches,” one law enforcement source said, noting that goodfellas don’t just profit off jobs themselves but related ventures like trucking and the ports.
And with fewer businesses open and generating garbage, private carting companies, historically a popular mob enterprise, are also feeling the pinch, sources said.
Money-hungry made men may soon be forced to lean more on narcotics, which is still doing a brisk business even as much of the world grinds to a halt.
“There’s still deals being made,” one insider said, speaking generally of the drug trade and not the mob’s involvement.
Chatter captured recently on surveillance wires indeed portends a possible shift to drug peddling, according to sources.
“A lot of the time, the big topic of conversation would be talking about gambling. That’s dried up,” one source said, noting the focus has turned to narcotics.
But even that comes with its share of coronavirus-induced headaches. Much of the product once moved in mobbed-up restaurants, bars and strip clubs that are now shuttered by state order.
It’s a shutdown that anti-mob crusaders like US Attorney General Kennedy, then-federal prosecutor Giuliani and pioneering NYPD Lt. Joseph Petrosino — slain by Sicily’s Black Hand extortion racket in 1909 — tried for more than 100 years to achieve, one source said.
“This is doing what they couldn’t do,” one source said.
Source: 31 March 2020,
New York Post
GLMS 2020 Q1 Monitoring & Intelligence Report
GLMS reported 24 matches to its Partners in 2020
You are welcome to go through the GLMS 2020 Q1 Monitoring & Intelligence Report, in which you can find some key facts and figures about the results of the GLMS Monitoring and Intelligence work. We also invite you on this occasion to read: – A message from GLMS President, Ludovico Calvi, at the unprecedented time of the COVID-19. – An interview with Norbert Rubicsek, Director – CSCF – Foundation for Sport Integrity.
Source: 9 April 2020,
IBIA reports 61 cases of suspicious betting in Q1 2020
The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) reported 61 cases of suspicious betting to the relevant authorities during the first quarter (Q1) of 2020. The total is 36% higher than the 45 cases in Q4 2019 and 65% higher than the 37 alerts reported in Q1 2019. IBIA members saw an increase in suspicious betting activity in the week before the widespread suspension of sport in mid-March.
Khalid Ali, CEO of IBIA, said: “The industry’s main focus is quite understandably on product availability and business viability in a particularly challenging period for the sector globally. That said, it is important to note that the vulnerability of sports and betting to corruption remains an ever-present danger to operator finances. IBIA saw an increase in suspicious betting activity in the week leading to the global sports shutdown highlighting the opportunism of corrupters.
“Whilst there has since been a relative lull, we fully expect the business threat to rise as sport is restored and betting product catalogues return to a level of normality. Indeed, it is clear that corrupters are still operating and seeking to exploit the current situation. IBIA will continue to utilise its unique global monitoring platform to protect its members and sports from fraud during this difficult time; product integrity and consumer trust will be key to the sector’s recovery.”
Other key data for Q1 2020: •44 – percentage of Q1 alerts on sporting events played in Europe (30% in Asia, 11% in Africa, 10% in South America and 5% in North America) •31 - number of alerts reported on tennis (18 cases for football, 5 for basketball, 4 for table tennis and one each in volleyball, cricket and boxing) •15 – number of alerts reported in the week before the widespread suspension of sport •11 – Russia ranking the highest country for alerts reported •7 – alerts reported since the widespread suspension of sport in mid-March
The International Betting Integrity Association is the leading global voice on integrity for the licensed betting industry. It is run by operators for operators, protecting its members from corruption through collective action. Its monitoring and alert platform is a highly effective anti-corruption tool that detects and reports suspicious activity on its members’ betting markets. The association has longstanding information sharing partnerships with leading sports and gambling regulators to utilise its data and prosecute corruption. It represents the sector at high-level policy discussion forums such as the IOC, UN, Council of Europe and European Commission.
Source: 2 April 2020,
Svenska Spel rolls out match-fixing education programme across football clubs
Swedish state-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel has strengthened its commitment to tackling match-fixing by rolling out a new digital education initiative across 2,328 football clubs.
The aim of the initiative is to offer both athletes and football associations a greater understanding of the risks associated with match-fixing.
The scheme, which includes information on spotting signs of problem gambling, has been rolled out to the clubs affiliated with Svenska Spel’s sponsorship project Gräsroten.
“Athletes, who often live close to the game, are a clear risk group for suffering from gambling problems,” said Patrik Hofbauer, CEO of Svenska Spel.
“Research shows that athletes, who often live near the game, are a clear risk group for suffering from gambling problems. Therefore, in our cooperation agreements with the Swedish Sports Federation, we have investments in just gaming responsibility. This is such an important investment.”
Johan Claesson, integrity officer at the Swedish Football Association, added: “Match-fixing is one of the biggest threats to football, and unfortunately we have recently seen signs that criminal forces have wanted to influence the outcome of matches at a very low level.
“This is something that we are very distant from, and that our main sponsor Svenska Spel is now taking the initiative to quickly train thousands of football players in the lower divisions in the subject of match-fixing, we think is very good. With more knowledge, it is easier to say no.”
During 2020, debate in Sweden has continued in relation to Football restrictions and legal definitions attached to classifying amateur and junior level events.
The leadership of Swedish betting and sports have asked national gambling inspectorate Spelinspektionen to clarify ‘grey areas’ attached to football wagering, as part of further Swedish gambling reforms intended this year.
Kajsa Nylander, sustainability manager at Svenska Spel, emphasised that it is of growing importance for Sweden’s football associations to gain a thorough understanding of the topics.
Nylander concluded: “Recently presented this year’s Sustainable Brand Index, Europe’s largest independent brand study focusing on sustainability.
It clearly shows that the gaming industry has a decent uphill when it comes to the confidence of the Swedish people.
Source: 9 April 2020,
ODDS AND ENDS
"Me ofrecieron 100.000 dólares por perder en primera ronda del Open de Australia 2009"
Sergiy Stakhovsky, ex número 31 del ránking, eleva las acusaciones de amaños hasta la categoría de los Grand Slams. Stakhovsky, durante un partido ante Melzer, en Wimbledon 2013. REUTERS
"En el Open de Australia de 2009 me ofrecieron 100.000 dólares por perder ante Arnaud Clement en primera ronda". La revelación de Sergiy Stakhovsky sacudió a este lunes a un tenis paralizado por la pandemia. Y es que el ucraniano, verdugo de Roger Federer en Wimbledon 2013, eleva a la categoría de los Grand Slams una lacra que hasta ahora sólo parecía salpicar a los torneos Challengers y Futures.
"La oferta me la hicieron llegar dos personas que se hacían llamar inversores", reveló el ex número 31 del ránking ATP, en declaraciones a una radio ucraniana. Aquel 20 de enero de 2009, tras casi tres horas y media de tenis, Clement remontó (6-3, 2- 6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1) para apuntarse el triunfo.
Más de una década después, Stakhovsky aún guarda un amargo recuerdo de aquel funesto episodio. "Si me hubiese encontrado con esa gente cuando salí de la pista les habría golpeado con la raqueta", rememora el ucraniano, que nunca suele refugiarse en las medias tintas ante los micrófonos. "¿Podéis proteger a mi familia?"
Según su testimonio, nada más acabar aquel partido en Melbourne Park curso una reclamación en la Unidad de Integridad del Tenis (TIU), donde le pidieron que identificase a los implicados. "Entonces les tuve que parar los pies y les dije: '¿Estáis listos para proteger a mi familia?'. Porque puede que aquellos dos personajes sólo fueran peones, pero quienes estuvieran por encima serían más peligrosos". Según Stakhovsky, la respuesta de la TIU fue que "no podían garantizarme nada".
Por aquel entonces, Stakhovsky reunía las condiciones idóneas para ser atrapado por las redes de amaños. Con 23 años recién cumplidos, sólo había disputado un partido de Grand Slam (derrota ante David Ferrer en Wimbledon 2008) y podía verste ntado por esos 100.000 dólares, una cantidad tres veces superior al premio por alcanzar la segunda ronda (31.000 dólares).
Source: 14 April 2020,
El Mundo Tennis
Nevada approves CS:GO esports bets for the first time in landmark decision
In a landmark decision, the state of Nevada has approved sports betting operators to take on esports bets for CS:GO. William Hill, the first Las Vegas sportsbook to adopt esports betting, released the odds for its first two eligible esports matches earlier Thursday.
Both matches take place in the ESL Proleague, which is broadcast on streaming websites YouTube and Twitch.
In the opening match, 100 Thieves (-500) opened as heavy favorites against amateur side Swole Patrol (+375). 100 Thieves, primarily made of top players from Australia, are currently ranked No. 9 in the HLTV world rankings.
Following that game, North America's top team, Team Liquid (-335), faces off with Made in Brazil (+275). Team Liquid sits at No. 6 in the HLTV world rankings as MIBR currently stand as No. 25.
This move to allow more esports betting comes following a majority of the traditional sports leagues in North America suspending play due to the global coronavirus outbreak. Along with the lack of sports betting, all MGM casinos were closed last week in an attempt to lessen the number of large public gatherings.
While new to the United States, esports betting in Europe has become a staple, with numerous gaming titles available to be wagered on from various tournaments around the world. Previously, New Jersey did test esports betting in its market, with the 2019 League of Legends World Championship final being the only esports event it took action on.
Source: 1 April 2020,
MGA Notice on COVID-19 and Sports Integrity
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disruptive impact on sports worldwide, and by correlation, the betting sector is facing unprecedented challenges. The Malta Gaming Authority understands that it is far from being business as usual for operators in this sector and is thus increasing industry outreach as means to set regulatory expectations in these turbulent times.
Most sporting events have now come to a complete halt, and so have the betting markets. This will naturally spur interest in betting operators to look elsewhere, including betting on events with different risk profiles to those traditionally offered. This includes betting on sporting events which are not run to the same professional degree as the more traditional sporting events on which betting is normally offered, including but not limited to amateur or minor league sports.
Esports is one such betting market which may see a significant boost during these times. Even traditional sports and their respective governing bodies have resorted to esports, with some already hosting simulated versions of their events digitally. Just like other sports, esports has varying levels of professional, semi-professional and amateur tournaments, and whilst many esports events are organised in a highly professional manner, others may not. And in a new sector such as esports, this distinction may not be easy to make.
In order to safeguard the integrity of such events, and warn betting operators of the risks involved, the Malta Gaming Authority is therefore recommending the following:
Operators should consider that all esports events are now being run online, and therefore lacking the standard integrity checks done at events. Operators should ensure that matches are not pre-recorded, and risk teams should be aware that esports matches are not always broadcast in real time, and there is often a pre-set delay between the actual match, and the public broadcast. Operators should make sure that customers understand the distinction between esports, and virtual sports, whereby the outcome of the latter is determined by a random number generator. Operators should look into whether tournaments benefit from integrity controls, and whether participants are professional, or otherwise, when deciding on which betting markets to offer. Operators should seek information about the participants/officials involved in the esports events from communicative tournament organisers or from publicly available information. Operators should maintain their betting integrity and fraud checks including making sure that participants/officials involved in esports events are not placing bets. Tournament organisers, broadcasters and sports governing bodies (SGBs) should revise any policies regarding misuse of inside information so as to include also any participants or officials involved in their esports events. Any suspicious betting activity should be reported to the gambling regulator. Any other suspicious activity (not betting related) pertinent to an esports event should be reported to the corresponding SGB, and/or event organiser.
Source: 9 April 2020,
Malta Gaming Authority
Exposed to betting, lowly Swedish team gets death threats
An amateur soccer team in Sweden was subjected to vicious online abuse, including death threats, after one of its practice games received unusually large exposure on betting sites amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With sports around the world in lockdown, soccer is only being played in a few places. In Belarus, the country’s top division continues as normal, while in Sweden only practice games between lower-league teams are still allowed to go ahead.
Skabersjo IF, a seventh-division team located near Malmo in southern Sweden, played Vastra Ingelstad IS on Monday. Skabersjo chairman Mattias Andersson said people — presumably from the betting community — from places like Hungary, Denmark, England and in Asia contacted his club on social media and email asking for information about such things as the team’s style of play.
“After the game,” Andersson told The Associated Press, “we received a lot of threats, death threats, where they said they wanted us all to be killed by COVID-19. It’s insane.”
Andersson said the players initially thought it was “a cool thing” that their practice games were coming under so much focus but then they became “very shocked.”
“We are all amateurs. Usually you cannot (bet) on our games,” he said. “It’s intimidating
“I remember when I started marketing at university, I was told all publicity is good publicity. But in this case, I actually doubt that theory. The last days I have seen the dark side of the betting community, what it does to people.”
While top-level competitions and training matches have been canceled in Sweden during the pandemic, those at a lower level are continuing because gatherings of fewer than 50 people are still allowed in the country and there are limited restrictions on social mobility.
Andersson said there were no fans and just “a handful” of reporters at the match on Monday.
The Swedish soccer association has told clubs still playing during the pandemic to ignore messages from potential gamblers asking for team information.
Andersson said he hasn’t reported the matter to the police and will discuss it at the next board meeting.
Skabersjo plans to play its games in Division 5 — the next-to-last tier of Swedish soccer — as scheduled this season, with the team typically getting about 70 spectators for its games.
Betting sites have been starved of live sports during the pandemic, so some have resorted to headlining their platforms with the Belarusian league and play in Nicaragua.
The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has praised the betting market, saying it means fans abroad learn more about Belarusian teams.
Belarus has the only top-level soccer league still playing in Europe, despite criticism from international players’ union FIFPro.
Swedish teams Eskilstuna FC and Nashulta GoIF, from the seventh and eighth divisions, respectively, had a training match on Monday canceled on the recommendation of the Swedish soccer federation after staff members at the clubs were contacted by would-be gamblers.
Sixth-division club AC Primavera said it has also received threats and abuse after losses in training matches in recent weeks.
“Among other things, we were accused of having ‘fixed’ our own match,” Primavera chairman Daniel Karlsson told local media, “and someone hoped we would all die from the coronavirus.”
Two Swedish training games — Kungsangens IF vs. IFK Lidingo, and Sollentuna vs. Foc Farsta — are slated for Thursday on some betting sites.
Source: 1 April 2020,
Tennis Integrity Unit
Tennis Integrity Unit Briefing Note: January – March 2020
Increase in first quarter match alerts linked to suspension of tennis
Between January and 22 March 2020 the TIU received a total of 38 match alerts through its Memorandums of Understanding with the regulated betting industry. This compares to 21 alerts for the same period in 2019, a year in which the fewest alerts were recorded since data was first published in 2015.
The increase of reported matches in the first quarter of 2020 is an indication that the entry levels of professional tennis were deliberately targeted by corruptors, as the sport moved towards suspension due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In anticipation of heightened integrity concerns when tennis resumes, the TIU, in conjunction with the governing bodies of tennis, is developing an education and awareness campaign to inform and support players, officials and tournament staff. Further details will be announced in due course.
Match Alerts: January to 22 March 2020 ATP Challenger 6 ITF WTT Men 16 ITF WTT Women 16 Total 38
TIU match alert policy
Every alert reported to the TIU is recorded, assessed and followed up as an indicator that something inappropriate may have happened. It is important to appreciate that an alert on its own is not evidence of match-fixing; there are many reasons other than corrupt activity that can explain unusual betting patterns, such as incorrect odds-setting; well-informed betting; player fitness, fatigue and form; playing conditions and personal circumstances; where analysis of a match alert does suggest corrupt activity, the TIU will conduct a full, confidential investigation.
New CEO joins the TIU
Jonny Gray became the first Chief Executive Officer of the TIU when he joined the organisation in mid-February. A former Colonel in the British Army and senior partner with Control Risks, he will be responsible for implementing the integrity recommendations of the Independent Review Panel, which include the establishment of a new, independent integrity organisation with a separate legal personality.
TIU Education update; Australian Open, WTT $15,000 pilot, online education during suspension of tennis
January’s Australian Open saw more than 650 officials, main draw and junior players receive integrity briefings and one-to-one sessions ahead of and during the tournament. Bespoke education sessions were also delivered to ATP coaches and the ATP’s international group tournament directors’ workshop. In February, a pilot Education outreach project took place at the ITF World Tennis Tour combined $15,000 event in Heraklion, Crete. This new initiative included presentations and an integrity pledge campaign for players, coaches, officials and tournament staff. More than 100 players received face-to-face education, alongside all tournament officials.
Colombia became the second nation to complete the TIU’s integrity criteria as part of the ITF Recognition of National Training Centres Programme. Six further nations are being supported as they work towards certification.
During the suspension of tennis the TIU team has continued to deliver its comprehensive education programme, including online 1-2-1 sessions for WTA Rookie players and Grand Slam Development Fund grant recipients.
Disciplinary code rules strengthened for Provisional Suspensions
Amendments have been introduced to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP), to strengthen the rules relating to the Provisional Suspension of individuals suspected of serious corruption offences. With effect from 1 April 2020, a Covered Person charged with a criminal offence or the subject of criminal proceedings, can be immediately suspended by an independent AntiCorruption Hearing Officer (AHO). The individual subject to the provisional suspension retains the right to appeal that decision to the AHO.
A further amendment clarifies that a decision to impose, or not impose, a Provisional Suspension cannot be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The final change allows a Covered Person subject to a Provisional Suspension to appeal for that suspension to be lifted after a period of 90 days, rather than the previous term of 120 days.
Disciplinary decisions – January to March 2020
Between January and March three players – Jonathan Kanar, Joao Olavo Soares de Souza and Patrick Keane - were subject to disciplinary sanctions for breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program. In addition, an appeal decision was received for Argentinian player Nicolas Kicker:
https://www.tennisintegrityunit.com/media-releases/jonathan-kanar-suspended-and-fined-after-admitting-corruptionoffences https://www.tennisintegrityunit.com/media-releases/lifetime-ban-and-200000-fine-joao-olavo-soares-de-souza-afterconviction-match-fixing-charges https://www.tennisintegrityunit.com/media-releases/independent-anti-corruption-hearing-officer-reduces-nicolas-kickersuspension-recognition-player-education-support https://www.tennisintegrityunit.com/media-releases/patrick-keane-suspended-and-fined-betting-tennis-offences These sanctions have previously been announced and are included here as a retrospective record.
Source: 8 April 2020, Tennis Integrity Unit https://elinkeu.clickdimensions.com/m/1/84431288/p1-b20099-c92724d0296147c4b3f18c9088aaed7a/1/50/5a19db32-2e2b-4505-8564-0ae8151c8941
UEFA issues match fixing warning as fixers adapt to Covid-19 restrictions
April 6 – UEFA has issued an intelligence alert to its federations warning that match-fixers are quickly adapting to Covid-19 restrictions, despite the bulk of leagues and games across Europe having been shut down.
In the alert UEFA warns that fixers are targeting lower-tier games and youth games that could provide data for the betting markets, as well as warning of a “heightened risk” of ‘ghost matches’.
Despite the Covid-19 shutdown of play, it has “done little to temper bettor interest in European football. With bettors – and match-fixers – worldwide left with limited betting options, we assess that the few matches still being held will be at greater risk of targeting by match-fixers.
“These matches may involve youth leagues or lower-tier clubs, whose players have yet to benefit from match-fixing prevention training, or club friendlies, which may be subject to less scrutiny or press attention. We similarly judge there to be a heightened risk of so-called “ghost matches” in which fixers create matches – inventing line-ups, stats, and match outcome – for offer on betting markets but no player or referee ever enters the pitch.”
UEFA said it had received a report from its integrity officer in Ukraine regarding likely ghost-matches there, as well as similar concerns in Russia.
See: Ukraine ‘ghost’ games fool bookies and punters as criminals pull off perfect crime
UEFA also cited cases in Sweden – which had been permitting matches under guidelines allowing gatherings of up to 50 people – where there was an unprecedented interest in a friendly match scheduled for March 30 between a seventh-tier and eighth-tier club. The match was cancelled after players “were subject to a barrage of social media messages from individuals seeking inside information or wishing players good or ill luck”.
UEFA gives a 9-point checklist to its federation integrity officers:
Review local COVID-19 restrictions as they pertain to football. Are there any provisions that would allow match-play under certain circumstances, such as without spectators? Are club friendlies currently allowed? Do clubs systematically inform the FA prior to scheduling and playing club friendlies? Do you currently monitor social media, local press, or betting operator sites for ghost matches? (The AMFU has been in contact with IBIA, certain betting operators, and other integrity partners regarding the suspected ghost matches; monitoring efforts across the broader integrity community have redoubled on this issue.) Do you employ a domain monitoring service to detect registration of typo or lookalike domains for malicious purposes? Are your clubs aware of the risk of ghost matches? Have you sent awareness messages to clubs highlighting risks related to COVID-19 or conducted additional at-distance prevention training? Have you considered what changes to the current situation would impact your risk assessment and begun monitoring for same (tripwires)?
Source: 6 April 2020,
Ukraine ‘ghost’ games fool bookies and punters as criminals pull off perfect crime
The coronavirus lockdown has not stopped football-related betting fraud with the re-emergence last weekend of so-called ‘ghost’ games in Ukraine.
Ghost games are matches that never took place but are faked with data that is sold on to bookmakers who offer betting markets to their punters. Estimates put the volume of bets that were placed on these ‘games’ as potentially as high as £100,000. It is likely that bookmakers paid out winning bets to match-fixers before they realised the fraud.
The four matches offered last weekend by bookmakers worldwide were from a friendly tournament supposedly featuring four lower league Ukrainian clubs. The tournament PR seems to have first appeared on a Facebook page for FC Berdyansk on March 21 promoting a round-robin event called the ‘Azov Cup’.
The matches were offered to bookmakers as a data feed by Bet Genius who had presumably been informed of them by their local scouts – people who collect the live match data for the bookmakers’ fast feeds that are used make, open and close the betting markets.
Those scouts would have then supplied the match data, as though real and live, that bookmakers would have used to make their markets.
The fake matches that were completed and rolled into betting markets were, on March 25, FC Berdanysk vs FC Lozovatka and Tavria vs Melitopol Cherry. On March Berdanysk vs Tavria and Lozovatka vs Melitopol Cherry were also completed before the tournament was discovered to be fake.
BetFred, BWin and 188bet, along with a number of other online bookmakers, all offered markets to their punters.
The schedule was for the fake tournament to hold another round of matches on March 27 and a final and third placed play-off on March 28, but having been discovered as a fraud the scam was halted and on March 29 the Facebook site was deleted.
In a statement March 27 the Ukraine FA said the matches had not taken place and had been created by match-fixers to defraud the betting markets.
“In the last days, the Ukrainian Association of Football established a series of ghost matches, involving Ukrainian amateur teams (Lozovatka, Melitopolska Chereshnia, Berdiansk, Tavriia-Skif Rozdol), that were also fixed for betting purposes,” said the statement.
“We informed the clubs and regional associations of this situation and all confirmed that due to the state quarantine the teams do not participate in any sports activities and did not play the aforementioned matches.
“In this view, we kindly inform you that any matches that will appear on bookmakers within the next month are ghost and created by illegal activities of the scouts who are also involved in match-fixing process. We kindly ask you to refrain from offering any matches of Ukrainian football teams during the upcoming month which may be considered as participation in organization of match-fixing.”
Bet Genius, that supplied the bookmakers with the fake data via its scouts, issued an apology to its bookmaker customers. There is some dispute over whether some form of match actually did take place as Bet Genius say they did collect data from a game. While the clubs all deny a game taking place if data was collected, who was actually playing in the match is something of an unknown, except to the match-fixers.
The identities of the match-fixers is understood to be almost certainly Belorussian and Turkish.
The big issue for the betting and football business – which currently no-one seems to want to address – is where the responsibility for investigating and prosecuting the crime lies. Law enforcers reportedly have no appetite to investigate, bookmakers look prepared to take the hit,while football authorities appear to be taking that position that because no game physically took place it isn’t their problem.
For criminal gangs, match-fixing remains an almost perfect and investigation-free crime to commit.
Source: 31 March 2020,
Inside World Football
Basketball: McLaren to head up international basketball integrity unit
Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who wrote a report into state-sponsored doping in Russia for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), was appointed Integrity Officer for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on Wednesday.
“I am delighted to be working with FIBA. I congratulate FIBA’s leadership for their commitment to ensuring the integrity of the sport,” McLaren said in a statement.
“I am confident that this new partnership will help FIBA navigate through any ethical challenge that may arise to ensure that spectators, players and coaches continue to have the utmost trust in the game,” he added.
McLaren, whose 2016 report for WADA outlined evidence of massive state-backed, systematic doping in Russian athletics, is also currently leading an investigation into allegations of corruption within the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
Source: 2 April 2020,
Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter has World Cup corruption case dropped
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter had a corruption charge related to the sale of World Cup broadcasting rights to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) dropped on Saturday, reports Reuters' John Revill.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in Switzerland has informed all of the parties of its intention to close the case, according to Revill.
"We confirm the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland considers the criminal investigation into the partial facts and allegations concerning the contractual relationship with the CFU to be complete and ready for conclusion," the Swiss OAG said in a statement.
The Swiss prosecutors said they "intend to discontinue the proceedings." The OAG did not provide a reason for their decision. Blatter, 84, led FIFA until 2015 and is currently serving a six-year ban from any football-related activities over ethics violations. He was accused of selling the television rights to the CFU for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups for $600,000, which was an amount seen as far below the market value at the time.
The recently dropped case was one of two criminal cases Blatter is facing. In the second criminal case, Blatter is accused of having arranged a payment of two million Swiss francs ($2.06 million) to the then Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) President Michel Platini in February 2011. The Swiss OAG said their investigation into this case is not affected by their decision to close the first case.
According to Reuters, a spokesman for Blatter said he had not heard anything officially but had no reason to doubt the media reports.
Source: 11 April 2020,
Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter has World Cup corruption case dropped Football
Top Swiss Court Upholds Prosecutor's Removal From Soccer Corruption Probe
Switzerland's top court rejected Attorney General Michael Lauber's bid to rejoin investigations of corruption in soccer, refusing to overturn a lower court's ruling that his closed-door meetings with FIFA's head had raised the appearance of bias.
In a verdict released on Thursday, the Federal Court upheld the Federal Criminal Court's order in June that Lauber recuse himself from the federal prosecutors' probe.
Lauber has denied wrongdoing and said "conspiracy theories" over his meetings with FIFA President Gianni Infantino and presumptions of dishonesty were harming prosecutorial integrity.
Lauber had been investigating several cases of suspected corruption involving FIFA, based in Zurich, dating back to 2014 and the presidency of Sepp Blatter. The probe treats FIFA as a victim rather than as a suspect.
Lauber had acknowledged two meetings with Infantino in 2016, saying they were intended to help coordinate the investigation. He later acknowledged a third meeting in 2017 after media reports of the encounter emerged.
Lauber had his pay cut for a year after a watchdog found last month he repeatedly told falsehoods and broke a prosecutors' code of conduct in handling the probe.
A fraud trial of three former senior German soccer officials and one Swiss over a suspect payment linked to the 2006 World Cup hosted by Germany has already started, but looks on the verge of collapse amid a coronavirus-mandated trial halt as a statute of limitation looms.
Separately, the organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have strongly denied allegations from the U.S. Department of Justice that bribes were paid to secure votes for the hosting rights to the tournament.
Suspicion and rumours have long surrounded both the 2010 vote by FIFA's executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
Source: 9 April 2020,
NY Times Football
FIFAgate reopens with Fox and Imagina execs indicted for bribery and another $5m for Jack
April 7 – Football may be postponed indefinitely on the field but off it, the FIFAgate scandal has burst into new life with a fresh catalogue of explosive indictments and allegations relating to widespread bribery, notably over the awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
The latest file throws the book at some of FIFA’s most powerful former officials, not least the infamous Jack Warner, but just as significantly – if not more so – for the first time cites some of the game’s most prominent deal-making sports marketing officials who, if found guilty, could spent up to 20 years in jail.
Two former senior executives at Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox corporation have been indicted for their alleged role involving kickbacks in exchange for broadcast and marketing rights.
Hernan Lopez was former chief executive of Fox International Channels and Carlos Martinez former president of Fox Latin America. Fox held the rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and both men have been charged with paying bribes to win lucrative U.S. broadcasting rights, and of wire fraud and money laundering offenses and trying to acquire “confidential bidding information”.
Both are also accused of involvement in the payment of bribes to Conmebol to secure broadcast rights to the Copa Libertadores, South America’s biggest club competition. The alleged conduct occurred before Walt Disney Co acquired most of 21st Century Fox Inc in 2019.
Eyebrows will be particularly raised at the alleged actions of Gerard Romy, former co-chief executive of Spanish media congolomerate Imagina based in Barcelona, since they involve the biggest fish of all, one-time aspirant to the FIFA presidency Jeffrey Webb.
According to the latest indictment, Romy took part in a scheme to bribe officials of the Caribbean Football Union and Central American Football Union to secure rights to World Cup qualifying matches.
In connection with the CFU scheme, the indictment sheet states, Romy and his co-conspirators agreed to pay Webb, then president of CONCACAF, a $3 million bribe in exchange for a share of a contract awarding the media and marketing rights to CFU members’ home World Cup 2018 and 2022 qualifiers.
Webb is, of course, the highest profile name in the entire FIFAgate scandal, having talked consistently about reforming FIFA when he came to power but now in disgrace after being banned for life and still awaiting sentence in the United States.
The new names on the charge sheet may not be globally recognised but wielded huge influence in their fields. “It’s shocking that the government would bring such a thin case,” said Matthew Umhofer, a lawyer for Lopez while Steven McCool, a lawyer for Martinez, said the charges against his client were “nothing more than stale fiction.”
But the prosecution side took a different stance.
“The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades,” William F. Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a statement.
“Over a period of many years, the defendants and their co-conspirators corrupted the governance and business of international soccer with bribes and kickbacks, and engaged in criminal fraudulent schemes that caused significant harm to the sport of soccer.
“Their schemes included the use of shell companies, sham consulting contracts and other concealment methods to disguise the bribes and kickback payments and make them appear legitimate.”
United States Attorney Richard Donoghue added: “The charges unsealed today reflect this Office’s ongoing commitment to rooting out corruption at the highest levels of international soccer and at the businesses engaged in promoting and broadcasting the sport.”
“Companies and individuals alike should understand that, regardless of their wealth or power, they will be brought to justice if they use the U.S. financial system to further corrupt ends.”
World Cups that just kept giving
The latest bombshell includes specific allegations that Warner, FIFA’s longest-serving vice president until being exposed as an alleged fraudster, and other former FIFA bigwigs took bribes in connection with choosing Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.
The US justice department alleges Warner, Concacaf president at the time of the ballot in 2010, “was promised and received” $5 million through 10 different shell companies that included entities in Anguilla, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, to vote for Russia. The indictment alleges that then Guatemala federation president Rafael Salguero was promised a $1 million bribe to also vote for Russia.
The prosecution file states that the three South American FIFA members at the time – Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira, the late Nicolás Leoz from Paraguay and an unnamed co-conspirator believed to be the late Julio Grondona from Argentina – took bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 tournament.
Leoz died last year under house arrest in his native Paraguay, having fought extradition to the US. Teixeira has been banned for life by FIFA as has Warner. Both have so far avoided extradition.
More than 40 people and entities have been charged as part of the FIFAgate scandal that dramatically began with that May 2015 hotel dawn raid in Zurich on the eve of FIFA’s annual Congress. Prosecutors have since secured at least 23 guilty pleas
Crucially, the newly released documentation does not specify who was behind the alleged bribery involving Warner and the other one-time FIFA dignitories.
Qatar and Russia have repeatedly denied paying bribes and six years ago were both cleared of any wrongdoing by FIFA after an 18-month probe.
But while they may not be directly involved, the latest revelations will doubtless rekindle a wave of suspicion about both selected hosts and put the spotlight back on the first ever winter World Cup in 2022 for all the wrong reasons.
Source: 7 April 2020,
US judge grants early release to Brazilian in FIFA corruption scandal
New York (AFP) - A federal judge in New York on Monday granted the release from prison on humanitarian grounds of an 87- year-old former senior Brazilian football official tarnished by the FIFA corruption scandal.
Judge Pamela Chen authorized the release of Jose Maria Marin, a former Brazilian Football Confederation president, who was serving a four-year prison sentence for accepting millions of dollars in bribes as part of the global FIFA corruption scandal.
Marin was scheduled for release in early December 2020, according the US Federal Bureau of Prisons.
But following a request from the Brazilian's lawyers Chen granted a "compassionate release," for reasons "including his advanced age, significantly deteriorating health, elevated risk of dire health consequences due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, status as a non-violent offender, and service of 80% of his original sentence," a court document seen by AFP read.
Marin was the first major football official found guilty and sent to prison in the United States as part of the "FIFA gate" scandal of kickbacks and bribes that smeared the reputation of the global sports organization.
He was being held in FCI Allenwood, a minimum security facility in the state of Pennsylvania.
In August of 2018, a New York jury found Marin guilty of accepting $6.6 million in bribes -- along with his deputy, Marco Polo del Nero -- in exchange for contracts to broadcast major tournaments.
Upon hearing his sentence Marin, who had already served 13 months behind bars, broke down in the courtroom and burst out crying.
"I could die in prison!" he wailed. "My wife and my family -- don't take away their means of survival!"
Source: 31 March 2020,
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