Integrity in sports update: IOC and Interpol hold first Partnership Development Meeting

This week has seen a number of court cases for match-fixing taking place not only exposing players but also club owners. In these trials, investigators and prosecutors have managed to expose the extent of organized crime involvement in various sports. The three court cases mentioned in this week’s report involve France, Greece and Spain and cover different sports.

We also see Malta looking at bringing in legislation to protect whistleblowers as a step in fighting corruption in sport and encourage reporting to authorities.  Good practice initiatives that took place in Norway and India is also in this week’s Weekly Media Recap.

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

France

The match-fixing trial of handball star Nikola Karabatic opened on Monday in the southern French town of Montpellier. The 31-year-old Barcelona player is accused of being involved in a betting racket for a French championship match in May 2012. Karabatic, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, is appearing with 15 other people. They include his partner Géraldine Pillet, his brother Luka and his partner, Jennifer Priez. Six ex-players from Karabatic's former team Montpellier are also in the dock. Primoz Prost, Dragan Gajic, Samuel Honrubia, Mladen Bojinovic, Mickael Robin and Issam Tej. They deny charges of cheating or plotting to cheat which could lead to five years in jail and a 375,000-euro fine. Prosecutors say bets of more than 100,000 euros were made on the half-time scoreline of a game on 12 May 2012 between Montpellier and Cesson.

Source: "Handball star Karabatic faces judges over match", 15 June 2015, rfi-English news, https://www.english.rfi.fr/sports/20150615-handball-star-karabatic-faces-judges-over-match-fixing

Greece

Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis was banned from participating in football related activities Thursday after his seven-hour testimony before a corruption investigating judge who is looking into a major match-fixing scandal. Judge Giorgos Andreadis with a joint decision from prosecutors on the case also ordered Marinakis to place a 200,000 euros guarantee and informed him that he must report to a local police station every 15 days until a trial. The ship-owner and businessman faces felony charges for his alleged involvement in the establishment of a criminal gang which fixed matches. The investigation is centred on alleged fixing of matches between 2011 and 2013 with relevance to relegation and promotion battles. Marinakis was previously implicated in another match-fixing scandal in 2010-11 which is still the subject of investigation. On Wednesday former football federation president Giorgos Sarris was banned from leaving the country, ordered to place a 50,000 euros guarantee and prohibited from getting involved in football activities of any kind until a trial. Sarris had resigned as president of the federation last December under pressure generated by the match-fixing scandal. He faces felony charges for his alleged involvement in the establishment of a criminal gang which fixed Greek matches.

Source: AFP, "Olympiakos owner Marinakis banned from football activities", 19 June 2015, The Peninsula & AFP, https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/sports/football/344598/olympiakos-owner-marinakis-banned-from-football-activities

Spain

A Spanish judge suspects Osasuna paid at least €900 000 to fix matches at the end of the 2013-14 La Liga season, a court said on Wednesday. The judge is investigating what happened to at least €2.3 million that went missing from the Pamplona-based club's accounts, a court in the northern region of Navarra where the club is based said in a statement. "The judge considers that there are signs that €900 000 were used to fix, at least, three matches of the last season," the statement said. Osasuna were battling to avoid relegation from La Liga in 2013/14, although they failed to beat the drop. Around €250 000 appear to have been paid to Espanyol players to draw 1-1 with Osasuna on the penultimate round of first division matches, it added. Another €650 000 had been given to Real Betis players – €400 000 to beat Real Valladolid in their penultimate game and €250 000 to lose to Osasuna on the final day of the campaign. "The judge continues to investigate other matches, the results of which were allegedly altered by Osasuna, as well as the destination of the rest of the money taken out of the club's accounts in cash," the court added. The judge opened his investigation in February after receiving a complaint over the missing money from Osasuna. So far 21 people have been indicted over the affair, including the two previous club presidents as well as players from Osasuna, Betis and Espanyol.

Source:AFP, "Judge suspects Osasuna of match-fixing", 17 June 2015, AFP,https://www.supersport.com/football/spain/news/150617/Judge_suspects_Osasuna_of_matchfixing

 

GOOD PRACTICE

India

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) conducted the first ever FIFA "Integrity Workshop" at the its headquarters here in Dwarka on Tuesday. The workshop, which was aimed at introducing the Indian footballing fraternity to manipulations in the game, also discussed solutions to the problem. It was attended by all the eight Indian Super League (ISL) franchises and nine I-League clubs. The workshop was conducted by FIFA's director of security Ralf Mutschke, head of international affairs Jacek Wojdyla and manager competition analysis Jonas Pfandler. Speaking on the occasion, Mutschke said: “Match fixing is a serious issue in Football and together in coordination with each other, we have to defeat that.” “FIFA cannot wage the war against match fixing alone and hence, we need the Federation’s support to prevent it,” he added. The workshop will act as a frontrunner of solutions to the problems of manipulative entities and manipulation in the game. Kushal Das, AIFF general secretary, said the “workshop made us ready to tackle” the menace of match-fixing and other forms of manipulation. “This Workshop is an important aspect of the Footballing education as it teaches us how to combat manipulative entities in the sport while making us ready to tackle the problem, as and when it arrives,” he said. To combat match-fixing and manipulations, the AIFF appointed Javed Siraj as its integrity officer in August last year. “We have prepared an Integrity Action Plan of AIFF whose guidelines are being followed by all the Clubs. An Integrity network is also created to keep the manipulation in the game in check by declaring the Team Manager as Nodal Officer for Integrity,” Siraj said.

Source:"AIFF holds integrity workshop to fight manipulation in matches", 17 June 2015, Daijiworld.com,https://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=328235

Norway

As part of increased collaboration between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and INTERPOL to protect the integrity of sport through education and awareness programmes, as outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020, the first Partnership Development Meeting (PDM) was held today in Oslo, Norway. Norway was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions. PDMs are currently being developed by the IOC and INTERPOL for other countries around the world according to their own unique circumstances. “This meeting is another tangible result from Olympic Agenda 2020, which is all about protecting the clean athletes from doping, match-fixing, the manipulation of competitions and related corruption,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “Together, the IOC and INTERPOL are developing robust education and awareness programmes that are already having a positive impact in the fight to protect the integrity of sport. INTERPOL’s know-how and educational expertise is crucial in this regard.” INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “Our common action with the International Olympic Committee to protect the integrity of sport through PDMs, training and capacity building helps strengthen confidence in fair play by the public and all those who have a stake in keeping sports clean and safe.” Recognising the commitment by Norwegian authorities to sport’s integrity, Mr Stock added: “A coordinated prevention strategy to keep sports clean is necessary, and must involve stakeholders on national, regional and international levels.” Pâquerette Girard Zappelli, the IOC’s Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, said: “The IOC recognises its responsibility to support the Olympic Movement, and particularly National Olympic Committees, in recognising, resisting and reporting breaches of sport’s integrity. In order to build a firewall around sport, to protect clean athletes and clean competitions, we need partners who can help us strengthen that firewall. We cannot fight this alone.” “Our collaboration with INTERPOL enables us to develop tailored solutions for each national situation. Together we address the various complex, multi-jurisdictional integrity risks that sport is confronted with today,” she continued.

Source:"IOC and INTERPOL support national efforts to combat competition manipulation in Norway ", 16 June 2015, Olympic.org,https://www.olympic.org/news/ioc-and-interpol-support-national-efforts-to-combat-competition-manipulation-in-norway/246380

 

LEGISLATION

Malta

The anti-corruption task force set up by the Malta Football Association will be asking lawmakers to widen the scope of the whistleblower act in order to fight corruption in sport. In recent weeks, the world of sports has been rocked by a number of scandals, including the corruption allegations against the international football federation FIFA, and closer to home, the demotion of Nadur Youngsters Football Club from the Gozitan top flight after a former official was found guilty of attempting to bribe players. This week, a debate on sports integrity organised by the European Parliament office in Malta brought all stakeholders together, including MFA vice-president Chris Bonnett who insisted that the existing tools to fight corruption are not sufficient. “The tools at our disposal are not enough because unfortunately our country does not have the sporting tradition of other countries and is more exposed to the manipulation of sports competitions,” Bonnet said. He added that low wages, the lack of professional athletes and the low profile of sports competitions make Malta an easier target for international criminal rings involved in match-fixing. “We’re also worried by the surge of foreign owners in Maltese football, especially when they claim that they do not expect anything in return for their investments,” Bonnet said. Last month, a number of officials and a manager involved in local football were arrested in connection with an international illegal football betting syndicate that was busted by Italian police. “The manipulation of games is about organised crime. Sports is used as another vehicle by criminal syndicates to make more money,” Bonnett said. MFA’s Integrity Officer, Franz Tabone,explained that footballers who expose cases of corruption are considered as traitors by the tightly-knit football community, “when in reality the real traitors are those who fix games”.

Source:Jurgen Balzan, "Football association: changes needed to whistleblower law to tackle match-fixing", 21 June 2015, Malta Today,https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/54265/football_association_changes_needed_to_whistleblower_law_to_tackle_matchfixing

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