Integrity in sports update: match-fixing in Cameroonian and Ghanaian football

Weekly media recap 10-16 August 2015

This has been a quiet week regarding integrity in sport related media articles. The Ghana Football Association Ethics Committee will be investigating allegations of match-fixing against a team manager who is denying any wrong doing. The allegations of match-fixing are being made by the football club President against his own team manager and involve two separate matches.

The decision made by the Italian Tennis Federation to ban two tennis players for life, which was reported on in last week's media recap, has generated much debate in the sport and media as a good practice and sanction. It is believed by naming and shaming match-fixers, it would contribute to tackling the problem and maintain the integrity of the sport.

 

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Cameroon

The former president of Tonnerre Kalara Club (TKC) Yaoundé, Antoine Essomba Eyenga, has told the world during a televised interview on Canal 2 International that his club sold a match to Coton Sport of Garoua to help them win the League 1 championship in 2014. Antoine Essomba Eyenga who also served as director of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) said the match fixing arrangements were ordered by the leadership of the Cameroon Football Federation. Said the controversial Eyenga: "Coton was neck to neck with Racing of Baffoussam, they just needed a point". The match was played in Obala and the Federation gave the appointed match officials standing instructions to make sure Coton Sport get the point they badly needed.

The former Tonnerre chief executive who blatantly refused to reveal whether Tonnerre players were involved in the match fixing process, however indicated he was now making public the information because Coton Sport refused to return the favor the following season when Tonnerre were in trouble. In terms of the outcome of the said match counting for the 14th day of the Super League and played in December 2014, Coton Sport won with a score of 4 goals to 1.

Source: Ebong Peter, "Tonnerre Kalara football club and Coton Sport involve in match fixing scandal ", 10 August 2015, Cameroon Concord, https://cameroon-concord.com/news/sports-and-games/item/3763-tonnerre-kalara-football-club-and-coton-sport-involve-in-match-fixing-scandal

Ghana

President of Wa Africa united FC,Nana Kwabena Yiakwan II has accused his team manager Kofi Adams of fixing matches between Wa Africa United and Real Tamale United. Speaking to Agyenkwa FM in Techiman over the weekend, the controversial Nana Yiakwan said, "We lost to RTU by a lone goal in Damongo which is our home ground. I was reliably informed that my team manager took Monies from RTU in our GNBDOL match day 23 that was why I sacked him before our game against Tamale Utrecht". He did the same thing against Techiman City and I have reported it to the GFA. Meanwhile the team manager has denied all allegations levelled against him by the President. The Ghana Football Association Ethics committee will be meeting on Wednesday 12 August to investigate the allegations.

Source: John Kankam, "Kofi Adams in match fixing between Wa Africa United and RTU", 10 August 2015, Ghana Web, https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/soccer/Kofi-Adams-in-match-fixing-between-Wa-Africa-United-and-RTU-374124

Italy

Catania could be set for demotion to the Lega Pro for the 2015-16 season and deducted five points for their involvement in the latest match-fixing scandal. The Sicilian side has been under investigation after owner Antonino Pulvirenti confessed to attempting to fix five matches during the 2014-15 Serie B season in order to avoid relegation. FIGC prosecutor Stefano Palazzi publicly announced his recommendations on August 11 after a trial that also called for Pulvirenti to be banned from football for five years. The FIGC are still to decide whether to impose Palazzi’s recommendations or opt for different punishments. Former Catania forward Aldo Cantarutti has since claimed he is relieved by the sporting recommendation as he believes that it is a soft punishment. “It is a weak punishment so as a former player I am happy,” he told TuttoMercatoWeb. “Given that we are still just talking about requests from Palazzi, it is possible that the points penalty could be reduced. “Even with minus five points, the team surely still has the chance to have their say. The handicap is slight and with two wins they can get back in the running right away.

Source: "Catania set for Lega Pro demotion after match-fixing ", 12 August 2015, Forza Italian Football Web, https://forzaitalianfootball.com/2015/08/catania-set-for-lega-pro-demotion-after-match-fixing/

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Italy

It is probably not as grotesque or widespread as in cricket or football yet, but the scourge of match-fixing has been raising its ugly head in tennis a lot more regularly these days and last month’s report by ESSA, an organisation dedicated towards maintaining the integrity of sports and betting, should set the alarm bells ringing. ESSA’s integrity report for the second quarter of 2015, released a couple of weeks before two Italian players (Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace) were banned for life for match-fixing, found 73 events of unusual betting patterns in sports and 23 of them were deemed suspicious. Four of those incidents were from football, while tennis accounted for the remaining 19. The report for the first quarter had recorded 49 such notifications, 23 of which were found to be suspicious and 17 of these were from tennis. These numbers will probably not come as a shock to those who know about tennis’ intrinsic vulnerability to manipulation. “I can throw a match and you’d never know,” Patrick McEnroe, the then captain of the US Davis Cup team, told the New York Times in 2007. Players, of course, have been doing that for years, and not always at the behest of evil bookmakers. Tales abound of top players tanking their matches at smaller events after pocketing the appearances. Some, such as Marat Safin, the tempestuous former world No 1, have tanked matches even at the grand slams. “After a while I just got bored,” he said after his first round exit from the 2004 Wimbledon. “I lost completely motivation and I give up.” At the 2000 Australian Open, the same Safin had entered the record books as the first person to be fined for tanking, but his fine was a mere slap-on-the-wrist $2,000 (Dh7,300). This reluctance to get tough on tanking might have probably played a part in encouraging some of tennis’ proletariat to accept the generous offers coming their way from unscrupulous bookmakers and punters. If Safin and the other top stars can get away with underperforming at grand slams, why not them ? It is certainly not easy turning down offers in excess of $150,000 for losing a first-round match at a nondescript Challenger when your average prize-purse for a year might not exceed $75,000. So it is not surprising that most of the reported suspicious matches are from the lower rungs of the ATP Tour. Most of the players banned by the Tennis Integrity Unit, a body formed following the 2007 scandal over Nikolay Davydenko’s withdrawal from his match against Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot, also happen to be the strugglers from the Challenger Tour. The TIU has banned four players and an official for life since its formation in 2008 and five others have been given shorter sentences, but the Integrity Unit has refused to make public their offences. This reluctance to divulge details is really surprising as well. Cricket and football have conducted very public and transparent enquiries into corruption in their sports and tennis needs to do the same. Unless they do that, the TIU itself will remain under a cloud.

Source: Ahmed Rizvi, "Tennis must start naming and shaming match-fixers to effectively tackle the problem", 10 August 2015, The National, https://www.thenational.ae/sport/tennis/tennis-must-start-naming-and-shaming-match-fixers-to-effectively-tackle-the-problem

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