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INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Bi-Weekly Bulletin - 5-18 September 2017

Start of a football game with player and football on line

In this bi-weekly edition, we have a look at several cases and pending investigations in Football, covering Europe, Asia and Africa. We also have an in-depth look at the issue of 'Courtsiding' in light of the US Open, new forms of cheating, and note good practice whereby cricket players increasingly report fixing approaches through social media.

Finally, we keep you updated on Integrity in Sports Events taking place in the near future.




FIFA Reaches Out to AIFF Over Match-Fixing in Calcutta League

FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, has written to All India Football Federation ( AIFF), informing it about possible fixing during a match between Tollygunge Aggrgami and Rainbow FC on August 25 in the Calcutta Football League. Tollygunge won the match 2-1. Indian Football Association (IFA) secretary Utpal Ganguly confirmed this to ANI. This development comes just a month before India would be hosting the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. It should be noted that this is not the first case of a match-fixing related probe happening in India. F IFA’s integrity unit, in 2010-2011, had raised doubts over alleged match-fixing during an I-League match featuring Goan giants Dempo against formidable Air India.

Source: 8 September 2017, India Football



Gardaí visit Bray Wanderers training session as part of investigation into match-fixing allegations

Gardaí visited a Bray Wanderers training session on Tuesday night as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of match fixing surrounding a friendly match played last week. The Seagulls faced Waterford on Friday, as both clubs had no competitive match due to the FAI Cup quarter-finals, with the First Division club recording a 5-0 rout. The FAI last night confirmed that they had launched their own investigation into the alleged match-fixing. "The Football Association of Ireland has launched an investigation into alleged match-fixing surrounding the friendly match between Bray Wanderers FC and Waterford FC on Friday, September 8 at the Carlisle Grounds," a statement read. "Upon receipt of a complaint the FAI notified An Garda Síochána and the Association has now launched an investigation into alleged breaches of FAI Rules. "The FAI has a zero tolerance policy to match-fixing." As part of their enquiries, gardaí arrived at the Carlisle Grounds to speak with relevant parties and the scheduled training session didn't go ahead. The Seagulls insisted they are assisting the authorities with the investigation. "Bray Wanderers FC wish to acknowledge that they are aware of an investigation by An Garda Siochana into a recent fixture involving the Club," they said. "We are cooperating fully and will be making no further comment until the investigation is completed and we have been presented with the findings." The investigation comes only a week after two Athlone Town players were each handed year-long bans from competitive football after a lengthy match-fixing probe. A number of detectives arrived at Bray’s training ground shortly after 5pm on Tuesday, and several players were questioned. Officers also examined mobile phones belonging to the team members, but no arrests were made. "A number of gardai came in and looked through the players’ phones in detail. The club did not proceed with the training after their players were questioned," a source told the Herald. Bray are currently fifth in the FAI Airtricity League while Waterford FC are top of the First Division, having lost only two games all season. FAI Cup games were scheduled to take place at the weekend and, as the two teams have already been knocked out of the competition, a friendly game was organised in recent weeks. Earlier this month, two Athlone Town FC players were handed year-long bans after being found to be in breach of FAI regulations, including game manipulation. Latvian goalkeeper Igors Labuts and Romanian defender Dragos Sfrijan were banned from "all football activity" by the FAI for 12 months. A disciplinary committee found they had breached three of the association’s rules, including those relating to "Manipulating Matches" and "Betting/Gambling". The charges arose from a Division One game at Longford Town in April. It ended in a 3-1 defeat for Athlone, after which Uefa informed the FAI of suspicious betting patterns and also contacted gardai and Interpol. The players have since lodged an appeal against their match-fixing bans. The Professional Footballers Association of Ireland (PFAI), which recently represented two League of Ireland players in a match-fixing probe, could not be reached for comment.

Source: 14 September 2017, Irish Independent,   


Irregular betting on 3 SEA Games football matches flagged

Three football matches played at the recent 29th SEA Games have raised red flags after analysts noticed betting patterns suggesting that match-fixers may have struck. Analysts from three bet monitoring companies told The Straits Times that suspicious betting behaviour had been observed in matches involving five countries at the recent games in Kuala Lumpur. The irregular behaviour - which pointed to the possibility that some punters knew the scores beforehand - was especially apparent in the betting that takes place while a match is going on, known as "in-play" betting markets. The matches concerned were Malaysia versus Laos , Vietnam versus Cambodia, and Thailand versus Cambodia. Thailand beat Malaysia in the final, although the bulk of the current scrutiny is centred on the teams from Laos and Cambodia. Italian betting analyst Ivo Romano said he noticed "telltale" signs in the match between Malaysia and Laos, which the former won 3-1. Mr Romano, a former football integrity consultant at Uefa, told ST that there was an "avalanche of money" during the game, betting that Malaysia would score a third goal. That final goal was scored in stoppage time. When odds spike or nosedive when the opposite should happen within betting markets, there's always a degree of suspicion of match manipulation. Sports Integrity and security consultant Michael Pride, who said that monitoring betting patterns is only one tool used to uncover rigged matches. Another betting analyst, who did not want to be identified, agreed with Mr Romano's assessment, noting that the bets seemed centred on a specific scoreline, unlike other games where bets tend to be more spread out. He said: "So at 2-1, the only score that they (punters) are betting on is 3-1... For betting to come out of nowhere - for Malaysia to win 3-1 by scoring a late goal - is really unusual. It's called spot fixing." The irregular patterns are not conclusive proof of match-fixing but were enough to raise alarms among betting monitors. Sports integrity and security consultant Michael Pride explained that monitoring betting patterns is only one tool used to uncover rigged matches. "When odds spike or nosedive when the opposite should happen within betting markets, there's always a degree of suspicion of match manipulation," he said. Bet monitoring companies typically alert their members, including bookmakers, sports federations or law enforcement, if matches display suspicious betting patterns. ST was shown part of a report by a bet monitoring company on the Vietnam versus Cambodia match, which ended with Vietnam's 4-1 win. The company warned its members to "be careful" after it noticed punters betting on there being four goals or more 20 minutes into the match. Analysts estimate that the bets placed on the three matches amount from a few hundred thousand to a million dollars. At present, it is not known if any investigations have been initiated. When contacted, the Olympic Council of Malaysia - the organiser of the SEA Games 2017, which officially closed on Aug 30 - said it "has not received any reports on the matter" and that it was unable to comment. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), in turn, said it "employs a number of measures aimed at preventing, detecting and effectively responding to any instances of match-fixing during competitions subject to its jurisdictions". The scrutiny comes just months after both the Laos and Vietnam football teams were implicated in match-fixing investigations. In February , the AFC disciplinary committee issued life bans to 22 players and officials from Laos and Cambodia for "involvement in the manipulation of matches".

Source: 7 September 2017, Straits Times Singapore 


Provisional suspensions - Two Ukrainian players to be investigated

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has issued provisional suspensions against Ukrainian players Eduard Zakharchenko and Volodymyr Varyvoda and launched an IIHF Code of Conduct investigation. The two players of the Ukrainian men’s national team are provisionally suspended from all ice hockey competitions or activities authorized and organized by the IIHF or any IIHF Member National Association as of 14 September 2017. The Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine has previously suspended them from activities in the country. The IIHF will investigate into the alleged violation of IIHF Code of Conduct Rule 3.2 (Match Fixing Violations) and/or Rule 3.3.3 (Failing to cooperate with any reasonable investigation). Both players are suspected to have been involved in a match-fixing attempt and were therefore suspended within Ukraine following investigations by the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine and the national police. The incident happened at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Kyiv, Ukraine, at the last game of the tournament on 28 April between Korea and Ukraine. The players were allegedly involved in a match-fixing attempt in which Ukraine should have lost with a margin of at least two goals. However, the game ended with a 2-1 win for Korea in shootout. After reviewing all available evidence and reports, including evidence of increased betting on a loss of the Ukrainian team by two or more goals, the IIHF has decided to open an investigation in the players’ alleged violations and requests the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine and the involved players to fully cooperate with the IIHF.

Source: 15 September 2017, IIHF 




Athlone Town pair banned for 12 months over match-fixing

The Football Association of Ireland has banned two Athlone Town players for 12 months over match-fixing. Igors Labuts and Dragos Sfrijan were found to have manipulated the result of the Irish club's 3-1 First Division defeat by Longford Town on 29 April. The FAI launched an investigation after Uefa was informed of suspicious betting patterns during the game. Athlone and the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland said both will appeal against the bans. The League of Ireland First Division club said they were extremely unhappy with the "outrageous findings" made by the FAI against Latvian-born goalkeeper Labuts and Romanian Sfrijan. "At this stage the club supports the players' appeal against the findings and any avenues taken by the two, who strongly deny the charges, aimed at overturning these decisions," said an Athlone Town statement. "It is our opinion that the evidence presented against the players was exceptionally flimsy, and based on opinion only." A statement from the PFAI said the appeals will be taken "as far as the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary". The FAI said that it had launched its investigation after a Uefa betting fraud detection system report demonstrated "clear and overwhelming betting evidence that the course of the 29 April game was unduly influenced with a view to gaining corrupt betting profits". Two other games involving the club were also investigated but the FAI decided that there was insufficient evidence to bring further charges. An FAI statement said it had conducted "a full investigation" which included interviews with the two players plus a review of the match footage by football experts. The FAI statement added that it considered the pair's own account of their financial arrangements with Athlone Town to be "unconvincing and insufficient". However, in response the PFAI said that "no evidence exists that these players were guilty of any such offence". The PFAI said that the FAI panel's decision made "no reference to the substantial expert evidence which contradicts the finding". The PFAI added that while the damage done to the players is "irreversible, they will fight to reclaim what is left of their good names".

Source: 8 September 2017, BBC Sport


Sri Lanka

Chamara Silva banned for two years by SLC

Sri Lanka Cricket has announced a two year ban for former batsman Chamara Silva from all cricket related activities following a violation of the spirit of the game during a domestic match. The decision follows the outrageous result of the game between Panadura Sports Club in the Tier B competition against Kalutara Physical Culture Club that 605 runs scored in 60 overs to manipulate a result that aided promotion of one team and helped the other team avoid relegation. Panadura resumed the final day with a score of 180 for two in response to Kalutara's first innings total of 390 after the first two days were hampered by rain and they scored 243 runs in just 23 overs to end their first innings at 423, even though Silva decided to not bat, knowing the outcome of a manipulated result as agreed by the two clubs. In their second innings, Kalutara went on to notch 197 runs inside 23 overs, setting a target of 165 runs for Panadura to get in the final innings which they completed in just 13.4 overs despite 15 more overs were left in the game. The pace at which the game went on the final day sparked criticism from local media and other clubs, who were affected by the result and as a result, the Sri Lankan board declared the game null and void while Silva and his counterpart Manoj Deshapriya were suspended for two years. The remaining players and the coaches from the both the clubs were also suspended for one year while the clubs were also sanctioned $3300 fine. Though it is understood that the clubs had entered mutual agreement on manipulating the result, they were cleared of match-fixing by the SLC.

Source: 18 September 2017, Cricket World




United States

Behind the shadowy practice of ‘courtsiding’ at the US Open

The arrest of an Estonian man last week for trespassing at the U.S. Open has renewed questions about “courtsiding,” the surreptitious collection of instant data for gamblers using online exchanges to bet on all angles of professional tennis matches as they unfold in real time. A private enforcement team called the Tennis Integrity Unit spotted the man, identified as Rainer Piirimets, in the upper reaches of Arthur Ashe Stadium during a match featuring No. 13 seed Petra Kvitova. Police arrested him on charges he violated a written notice to stay away from the U.S. Open grounds after the unit caught him courtsiding there last year. The courtsiding suspect wasn’t alone: Tennis officials say at least seven other people were kicked out for transmitting results at this year’s tournament. Little is known about the 33-year-old Piirimets or who employed him. Court papers list his address as a Quality Inn in Queens, where attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. And a public defender’s office representing him didn’t respond to messages seeking information about him. The suspect fits the profile for U.S. Open courtsiders in one way: He’s a foreigner. Of the 19 other suspected courtsiders kicked out of the Open and given a 20-year ban last year, four were from Britain, four from Spain, three from Russia, three from France, two from Italy and one from Sri Lanka. The integrity unit won’t talk about its techniques for catching them. But it’s believed they rely on photos of known offenders and can scan the grounds with closed circuit cameras for suspicious activity. The arrest of a British man named Daniel Dobson at the 2014 Australian Open offered insight into one trick of the trade: Authorities claimed he had a special device concealed in his shorts that allowed him to instantaneously relay the result of each point without looking away from a match in progress. It’s a fun way to make a living, said Brad Hutchins, a former courtsider from Australia and author of “Game Set Cash! Inside the Secret World of International Tennis Trading.” “The job is amazing,” he said in an email. “Traveling the world watching live sport is a dream job. We’re all aware it skirts a grey area but the trade off of dodging security was worth it.” Experts say courtsiders are trying to get match data to gamblers so fast that it gives them an edge in contests that let them bet on aspects of a match while it is in progress. Even though many matches in a tournament are on television, courtsiders try to take advantage of short delays in the live video feeds. They are also trying to enter data on the outcome of points faster than the umpires, who feed them into computers that transmit around the world. Getting the results first, even by a few seconds, can give bettors an edge over others looking at odds based on the previous point. On betting sites, gamblers place bets on who will win the overall match or individual games. There are also bets on whether the next game will go to deuce, on how many games will be played in a set and on how many games an individual player will win. Some bets are even placed on the outcome of the next point in an ongoing match. For those wagers, one betting site cautions, “You have to move quickly.” U.S. Open tournament director David Brewer has said banning courtsiders protects the sport’s integrity because it’s a “logical conclusion” that it could be related to the more serious issue of match-fixing. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” he said. But others argue that the activity itself is harmless and that the enforcement has its roots in a decision by the men’s and women’s tours to sell exclusive rights to their scores to media data firms with clients that include large overseas betting exchanges. Courtsiding became “a lot more regulated” since tennis made the deal, Hutchins said. “The fact is obvious to courtsiders that they’re protecting their monetary interests over the integrity of the sport because security went through the room after the contract went through,” he said. The company employing the courtsider arrested at the Australian Open argued he shouldn’t have been charged with a crime because nothing he did affected the outcome of the match. It also claimed “it has never been and never will be involved in illegal betting or any other illegal activity whatsoever.” In the end, the charges were dropped.

Source: 8 September 2017, Wahington Times


United States

Red Sox 'cheated using Apple Watch'

The Boston Red Sox used an Apple Watch illicitly to gain the upper hand in a recent game, a Major League Baseball (MLB) investigation has reportedly found. According to the New York Times, the Red Sox used the device to receive messages about what kind of pitch was about to be thrown. That information was then relayed from the dug-out to the batter - giving him an advantage. It is unclear what kind of punishment Boston’s beloved team might receive following the investigation. The team is currently top of the American League Eastern division. MLB did not return the BBC’s request for comment on Tuesday. Nor did the Red Sox or the New York Yankees - the team whose complaint provoked the probe. The Yankees provided video from a three-game series that took place in August. In baseball, the catcher, crouched behind the batter, will signal to the pitcher what kind of ball should be thrown, such as a fast ball or slider. Typically, the catcher will hold up a number of fingers to relay that message. These signals - known as signs - would be very useful to the batter if he could see them, but he’s looking in the other direction, using only the pitcher’s posture and grip for guidance. Stealing signs, as the practice is known, involves a team member seeing the opponent's signal and somehow relaying that information to the batter in the short window before the ball is thrown. The MLB investigation found the Red Sox would have an off-field person watching a camera feed of the catcher. He would then contact the dug-out via the Apple Watch, and that signal would be passed on from the dug-out to the batter. The New York Times report said MLB will now look to see if the Red Sox had used the technique in other games. Stealing signs by analogue means - such as a team mate at second base seeing the catcher and revealing the signal to the batter opposite - is legal. But using a devices such as binoculars or electronics to aid the process is not. Teams have long used ingenious ways to steal signs, including in 1951 when the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson hit a World Series-winning home run, a hit later dubbed the “shot heard round the world”. It was revealed some years later that the Giants had a team member in the club house opposite using a telescope to spot signs. Joel Sherman, a baseball columnist for the New York Post, said on Twitter that MLB must clamp down on mischievous uses of technology in the sport. "MLB must rethink how it polices tech use. Perhaps no electronics at all in dugout,” he wrote. "Also, teams might have to rethink how signs are given on field by going to verbal signals or eliminating putting fingers down as the lone way to convey pitch selection.”

Source: 6 September 2017, BBC 




Cricketers to oust match-fixing approaches on social media

The social media accounts of Australia’s top cricketers have become a frontline in the war against match-fixing, with illegal betting syndicates targeting the Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp accounts of Test and Twenty20 stars to elicit inside information. All members of Australia’s touring squad to Bangladesh have been instructed to screen shot suspicious online approaches from unfamiliar accounts — particularly those sent from the subcontinent or Middle East countries where illegal betting on cricket is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise — and provide them to anti-corruption authorities to help detect and prosecute criminal gambling rings. Information about suspicious approaches, once obtained by Cricket Australia’s integrity team, can be cross-checked with the -intelligence holdings of the International Cricket Committee and other national cricket boards, the federal government’s National -Integrity of Sport Unit, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Com-mission and Interpol. Cricket Australia’s senior manager for integrity, Iain Roy, says -although many of the approaches to players are benign, the ICC has a growing data base of suspect social media accounts and mobile phone numbers that has been used to -expose criminal operators. “Increasingly, we are getting players having conversations with us about these ubiquitous online approaches,’’ he told The Australian. “Players in Australia are really clued in. If someone from the UAE, someone from Pakistan or someone from India sends them a WhatsApp message, they will just screen-shot it and send it on to us and we put it into our intelligence.’’ The cricketer’s active response to the threat of match-fixing is part of a broader shift in international sport, where athletes are expected not only to resist approaches by suspicious parties but report them to anti-corruption authorities. “That is the most important thing,’’ said Severin Moritzer, chief executive of the Vienna-based -Association for Protecting the -Integrity of Sport. “It doesn’t help to reject an offer and not report it. That is one of the core elements we cover in our education seminars when we talk to athletes.’’ Australia’s touring squad to Bangladesh was briefed on the risks posed by offshore bookies and criminal networks — and their responsibility to report suspicious approaches — at the training camp in Darwin last month. Mr Roy said cricket’s anti--corruption measures were strongly focused on the shortest form of the game, with Twenty20 competitions such as Australia’s BBL -attracting the most interest on legal and illegal betting markets. The Indian Premier League, the Bangladesh Premier League, the Pakistan Super League and the Ram Slam in South Africa have all been hit with match and spot-fixing scandals, leading to the suspension of nine international cricketers on corruption charges. Twenty20 batsmen David Hussey said suspicious social media approaches prompted him to close most of his social media accounts. “That is part of the reason I got off Facebook and all other social media bar Twitter,’’ he said. “I didn’t want these untoward approaches.’’ Hussey said the approaches, which he received in 2008 during his involvement in the newly formed IPL, included requests for information about pitch conditions, team selections and whether his team intended to bowl or bat. Figures provided to Cricket Australia by Australia’s licensed corporate bookmakers show that the growth of legal betting on BBL matches has reached a plateau after years of strong growth. Total betting on all matches last summer was $128 million, about $3.6m a match and little changed from the previous year. In the 2014-15 summer, the corresponding figure was $72m. This does not include turnover on betting exchanges such as Betfair, which distort the true size of the legal betting market. Interpol estimates that for every dollar bet legally on a cricket match, about 10 are punted on the black market. This means conservatively $1 billion is likely to be bet on this BBL series. Cricket Australia’s defence against these integrity threats, particularly to Big Bash cricket matches, is multifaceted. As well as telling players to report any suspicious approaches, it conducts background checks on overseas players contracted to play in the BBL and employs observers at all matches to detect people paid by provide information quicker than bookmakers can adjust their odds.

Source: 5 September 2017, The Australian 


Senegal vs South Africa: World Cup qualifier to be replayed after referee found guilty of match-fixing

A World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Senegal will be replayed after the referee was found guilty of match-fixing. Joseph Lamptey, the official from Ghana, awarded a penalty to South Africa for handball just before half-time with the score at 0-0. Subsequent replays showed the ball clearly hit Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly on the knee. The game in November last year finished in a 2-1 win for South Africa, a result which saw the Senegal Football Federation (FSF) make a complaint to Fifa. The world governing body banned Lamptey for life in March for “unlawfully influencing match results”, a decision upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport this Wednesday. "Today there are many reasons to be happy about this decision - a decision that will be remembered as being significant but will also warn everybody that they are being watched," FSF vice-president Abdoulaye Sow told the BBC after the initial decision in March. "All cheating and stealing will be punished according to its gravity." The qualifier between the two sides – currently third and fourth in their group – will be replayed in November.

Source: 7 September 2017, The Independent



INTERPOL-IOC Integrity in Sport Regional Workshop and Partnership Development Meetings

25 - 26 October 2017, Dakar, Senegal

The INTERPOL Integrity in Sports Unit and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will host a Regional Workshop addressed to Law Enforcement, Sport Federations, Betting, and relevant ministries. High level representatives from various stakeholders will meet to discuss and prepare a strategy to combat match-fixing. Five countries: Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal will be taking part in the two events.


INTERPOL - IOC Integrity Seminar

4 October 2017

IOC and INTERPOL organise an Integrity Seminar for FIBA referees, prior to the start of the season.


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