INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Bi-Weekly Bulletin - 13 August 2019 - 26 August 2019
In Australia, detectives from the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, along with detectives from the Organised Crime Intelligence Unit, have arrested six individuals in relation to an investigation into suspicious betting activity relating to an eSports league.
In terms of sanctions, a Chilean tennis player has been suspended for eight years and fined $12,500 after being found guilty of failing to co-operate with a Tennis Integrity Unit investigation and of not reporting a corrupt approach. FIFA banned for life a former Nigeria national coach for having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches. In Zimbabwe, the government-run Sports and Recreation Commission requested FIFA to have the Zimbabwe Football Association run by a normalization committee until new elections can be held.
In Sweden, the gambling regulator imposed strict measures that would penalize any gambling firm that features odds on sports where the majority of players are under age 18, therefore, limiting the growth of eSports betting in the country.
In Ukraine, the security services accused leading sports officials of purchasing medicine for athletes which were non-compliant with anti-doping rules.
In Algeria, the Directorate General for National Security and the Algerian Olympic Committee signed an agreement to fight all forms of corruption in sport.
INTERPOL’s Match-Fixing Task Force cooperated with the Belgian National Platform in the monitoring of the Hockey European Championship jointly organized by the European Hockey Federation and the Belgian Hockey Federation in Antwerp, Belgium.
A recent match-fixing working group meeting organized by UEFA brought together national delegates as well as experts from INTERPOL and other international organizations to discuss future actions in protecting the integrity of competitions.
The Movement for Credible Cycling published the figures of doping cases in professional cycling worldwide since the beginning of 2019. Compared to the previous year, the sport’s credibility decreased, with doping cases in Colombia, Slovenia and Austria, among others.
Lastly, we would like to share with our readership the latest Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report <https://www.starlizard.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Suspicious_trends_2019_MS-v3.pdf>
2019 from Stats Perform Integrity and Starlizard Integrity Services. Among others, the report shows that six women’s football games were identified as having suspicious betting partners in 2018, compared to zero in 2017.
We welcome submissions on best practices, major developments, new trends and relevant articles for publication in the bulletin.
The next bi-weekly bulletin will be circulated on Monday, 9 September 2019.
Six people arrested re esports investigation
Detectives from the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, along with detectives from the Organised Crime Intelligence Unit, have executed warrants at a number of properties this week in relation to an investigation into suspicious betting activity relating to an esports league.
The investigation commenced in March 2019 after police received information from a betting agency about activity linked to a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) tournament.
It’s alleged that players were arranging to throw matches and subsequently placing bets on those matches.
It’s believed at least five matches were impacted and over 20 bets were put on the matches by Australian punters.
Warrants were executed at three residential properties, two in Mill Park and one in South Morang, on Wednesday 21 August.
Two 20-year-old Mill Park men, a 22-year old Mill Park man and a 19-year-old South Morang man were arrested.
A warrant was executed in Perth by WA Police, however no one was arrested.
Today, police executed a further two warrants at residential properties in Mount Eliza and two 20-year-old Mount Eliza men were arrested.
All six have been interviewed in relation to the offences of engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency, or use of corrupt conduct information for betting purposes.
These offences carry up to 10 years imprisonment.
They have since been released pending further enquiries and the investigation remains ongoing.
Detectives from the SIIU are also continuing to work with a number of betting agencies, including Sportsbet, in relation to this matter.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson said this investigation involving the esports industry was one of the first of its kind by Victoria Police.
“Esports is really an emerging sporting industry and with that will come the demand for betting availability on the outcomes of tournaments and matches,” he said.
“It’s important that police and other agencies within the law enforcement, gaming and betting industries continue to work together to target any suspicious activity.
“These warrants also highlight that police will take any reports of suspicious or criminal activity within esports seriously, and we encourage anyone with information to come forward.”
Source: Natalie Webster, 23 August 2019, Victoria Police
Juan Carlos Saez suspended for eight years and fined $12,500 for breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program
Chilean tennis player Juan Carlos Saez has been suspended for eight years and fined $12,500 after being found guilty of failing to co-operate with a Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) investigation into potential breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP), and of not reporting a corrupt approach.
When interviewed by the TIU in connection with betting alerts on matches he had played in, the 28-year old repeatedly failed to comply with a request to provide his mobile phone for forensic analysis.
Separately, he admitted to receiving a corrupt approach at an ITF Futures tournament in Chile, which he did not report to the authorities, as required under anti-corruption rules.
The disciplinary case was adjudicated by independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Professor Richard H. McLaren, who imposed the suspension and fine. As a result of Prof. McLaren’s decision, and with effect from 19 August 2019, Mr Saez is prohibited from competing in or attending any event sanctioned or authorised by the governing bodies of tennis for the full eight year period.
Currently ranked 1082 in ATP singles, the player has a career high of 230 achieved in September 2015.
The breaches of the TACP for which he has been disciplined are:
Section D.2.a.i.- In the event any Player is approached by any person who offers or provides any type of money, benefit or Consideration to a Player to (i) influence the outcome or any other aspect of any Event, or (ii) provide Inside Information, it shall be the Player's obligation to report such incident to the TIU as soon as possible.
Section F.2.b. - All Covered Persons must cooperate fully with investigations conducted by the TIU including giving evidence at hearings, if requested. After a Covered Person receives a TIU request for an initial interview or otherwise becomes aware of any TIU investigation involving the Covered Person, the Covered Person shall (i) preserve and not tamper with, damage, disable, destroy or otherwise alter any evidence (including any personal devices described in Section F.2.c.i.) or other information related to any Corruption Offense and (ii) not solicit, facilitate or advise any other person to fail to preserve, tamper with, damage, disable, destroy or otherwise alter any evidence or other information related to any Corruption Offense.
Section F.2.c. - If the TIU believes that a Covered Person may have committed a Corruption Offense, the TIU may make a Demand to any Covered Person to furnish to the TIU any object or information regarding the alleged Corruption Offense, including, without limitation, (i) personal devices (including mobile telephone(s), tablets and/or laptop computers), (ii) access to any social media accounts and cloud storage held by the Covered Person (including provision of user names and passwords), (iii) hard copy or electronic records relating to the alleged Corruption Offense (including, without limitation, itemized telephone billing statements, text of SMS and What’s App messages received and sent, banking statements, Internet service records), computers, tablets, hard drives and other electronic information storage devices, and (iv) a written statement setting forth the facts and circumstances with respect to the alleged Corruption Offense. The Covered Person shall furnish such information immediately, where practical to do so, or within such other time as may be set by the TIU. Any information furnished to the TIU shall be (i) kept confidential except when it becomes necessary to disclose such information in furtherance of the prosecution of a Corruption Offense, or when such information is reported to administrative, professional, or judicial authorities pursuant to an investigation or prosecution of non-sporting laws or regulations and (ii) used solely for the purposes of the investigation and prosecution of a Corruption Offense.
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: 20 August 2019, Tennis Integrity Unit
FIFA ban former Nigerian coach Siasia over match fixing
(Reuters) - Former Nigeria national team coach Samson Siasia has been banned from the game for life following a match-fixing probe by world governing body FIFA.
FIFA said in a statement on Friday that the adjudicatory chamber of their independent Ethics Committee found that Siasia was “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”
The 51-year-old Siasia played 51 times as a striker for the Nigerian national team and later coached various national youth sides before a spell as senior coach in 2016.
The case is the latest to emerge from FIFA’s long-running investigation into the activities of Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, who FIFA has called a “known match fixer” and who has admitted such activity in several interviews.
FIFA said that he was banned for life “from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level.”
Siasia has also been fined CHF 50,000 (41,997.1 pounds).
Source: 16 August 2019, Reuters
Southeast Asia Pulls Back On Online Gambling as China Rages
Southeast Asian countries are moving against their lucrative online gambling industries amid pressure from China to clamp down on a practice that’s ballooned due to demand from its own citizens.
Weeks after China lashed out at the Philippines for encouraging offshore gambling, which it said targets Chinese customers and causes the illegal outflow of hundreds of millions of yuan, the Philippine gaming regulator said on Monday that it would stop accepting applications for new online gaming operations at least until the end of the year to review concerns about the burgeoning sector.
Separately, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday that Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered a stop to new licenses for online gambling operations in the country. Existing licenses also will not be renewed upon expiry, said the report.
Philippines Won’t Halt Online Casinos But to Suspend New Permits
The about-turn in gambling policy in these Southeast Asian nations comes as China steps up efforts against what its minister for public security, Zhao Kezhi, called “the cross-border online gambling problem.” Online and phone betting in Southeast Asian countries by Chinese punters many miles away has exploded in the last few years, and there are signs that the offshore services are penetrating more deeply into China’s population than expected.
Some online gaming websites offer punters wagers as low as 10 yuan and have round-the-clock live streams. That makes them easily accessible by lower-income Chinese in rural areas, who do not have the means to go to Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, to scratch the gambling itch.
China Hits Out at Philippines in Offshore Gaming Crackdown (1)
The burgeoning industry has also transformed Southeast Asian countries and the abrupt pullback is likely to hurt their economies. In the Philippines alone, more than 50 offshore gambling companies had received permits to operate, over a hundred thousand Chinese workers had surged into Manila to staff the industry, and property prices near gaming sites were booming. Revenue from online gaming operations is projected to reach up to 10 billion pesos ($191 million) next year, according to the Philippines gaming regulator.
The Xinhua report said that Cambodia ordered authorities to stamp out illegal online gambling businesses in order to uphold social security and public order.
The Philippines gaming agency chair Andrea Domingo, while announcing the pause in new licenses, emphasized that the practice is legal in the country, but that gaming revenue growth may be flat to slow this year due to China’s campaign.
Source: 19 August 2019, Bloomberg
Cyclisme : la Colombie minée par le dopage
Auréolée du récent sacre d'Egan Bernal sur le Tour de France, la Colombie est classée par l’Union cycliste internationale (UCI) au 2e rang des pays comptant le plus de coureurs suspendus ou sanctionnés pour dopage. De nombreux acteurs du milieu décrivent un dopage omniprésent et presque inévitable pour être compétitif au niveau local.
Berceau des "scarabées", le surnom de ses grimpeurs, le cyclisme colombien, porté aux nues avec Egan Bernal, premier Latino-américain à remporter le Tour de France, se débat avec la réalité du dopage. L’Union cycliste internationale (UCI) classe la Colombie au 2e rang des pays comptant le plus de coureurs suspendus ou sanctionnés pour dopage (20, un de moins que le Costa Rica).
Une médecin qui a travaillé avec ces sportifs, un coureur à la retraite, un préparateur physique et un journaliste qui a enquêté sur le sujet : interrogés, tous décrivent un dopage omniprésent, et presque inévitable pour être compétitif au niveau local. "La pichicata"
Le scandale a miné cette année Manzana Postobon, unique équipe colombienne professionnelle (continental Pro), dissoute par son propriétaire en mai. L’onde de choc s’est propagée alors que Bernal montait sur la plus haute marche du podium et que les autres scarabées (Quintana, Lopez, Uran, Chaves...) nourrissent de grands espoirs sur les routes du Tour d’Espagne, lancé samedi.
Il existe un mot très connu du peloton colombien, mais tabou : la "pichicata", qui en langage populaire désigne une substance narcotique. Les cyclistes se réfèrent ainsi au dopage, précise sous couvert d’anonymat un ancien coureur au sein d’équipes professionnelles sur route.
"La fédération s'est chargée de le dissimuler"
Pendant les compétitions, raconte-t-il, il a souvent vu sur le sol des emballages de substances dopantes : "C’était frustrant car je sentais que la course n’avait même pas débuté, mais que j’avais déjà perdu." Dégoûté, il s’est retiré au bout de deux ans, en 2010.
Une page web vend ainsi, via les réseaux sociaux, des substances interdites par l’UCI et l’Agence mondiale anti-dopage (AMA), mais considérées comme légales en Colombie. Selon l’ancien cycliste, "personne ne va traiter l’autre de tricheur (...) tous savent que ça peut leur arriver à n’importe quel moment".
Une médecin, qui a travaillé avec une équipe colombienne entre la fin des années 1980 et le milieu des années 1990, est catégorique : "Le 'doping' a toujours existé dans le cyclisme colombien" et la fédération nationale s’est chargée de "le dissimuler".
"Ne pas effrayer les sponsors"
Cette spécialiste, qui requiert l’anonymat car elle s’occupe encore d’athlètes, affirme avoir affronté entraîneurs et sportifs. Elle mettait ces derniers en garde : "Quand vous vous retirerez, vous allez subir les conséquences de votre dopage qui peut provoquer cancer, atrophie des testicules, stérilité."
La pratique persiste, selon un préparateur physique de coureurs professionnels. "Il y a de nombreux cas de cyclistes dopés qui n’ont pas été rendus publics par la Fédération", affirme-t-il. Selon lui, la Fédération colombienne de cyclisme, au lieu de prendre des sanctions, alertait les équipes en secret lorsqu’un de leurs coureurs était contrôlé positif. "Pour ne pas effrayer les sponsors."
Ce que répond la fédération
En 2017, l’UCI a dépêché une délégation pour procéder à des prélèvements lors du Tour de Colombie et les a fait analyser aux Etats-Unis. Le laboratoire de Bogota avait alors perdu son accréditation de l’AMA. Huit coureurs avaient été contrôlés positifs, chiffre le plus élevé dans l’histoire de la Vuelta colombienne.
En 2018, la compétition a été exclue du calendrier UCI et la Fédération a recommencé à assurer le contrôle anti-dopage. Elle n’a fait état d’aucun cas positif durant la dernière édition et un seul coureur a été sanctionné en 2019.
Le président de la Fédération, Ovidio Gonzalez, nie catégoriquement que le dopage soit généralisé et défend la transparence de
l’organisation qu’il dirige depuis 2017. "Absolument tous les cas positifs que nous rencontrons sont annoncés sur notre page
web et sanctionnés", affirme-t-il.
Et les stars mondiales ?
Bien que la Colombie reste exportatrice de talents comme Egan Bernal, 22 ans, les chasseurs de champions les isolent de la scène locale afin d’éviter qu’ils se "contaminent", selon le journaliste Gustavo Duncan, qui a dénoncé le phénomène du dopage.
"Les équipes étrangères ne prennent même pas en compte les coureurs de plus de 23 ans car elles savent que, hors des catégories juvéniles, il est quasiment impossible de courir en Colombie sans se doper", lance-il. "N'importe quel jeune"
L’entraîneur Luis Fernando Saldarriaga, qui a découvert Nairo Quintana (Movistar) et Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott), le confirme : "Ce sont des talents que l’on prépare dès leur jeune âge pour les emmener à l’étranger. Jamais nous ne les faisons participer à un Tour de Colombie car leur capacité serait mise en doute."
Deux de ses poulains de l'époque Postobon, Wilmar Paredes et Juan José Amador, ont été contrôlés positifs au début de l'année. Selon le préparateur physique, "si deux garçons, qui travaillent comme professionnels avec des entraîneurs qui leur ont expliqué l’importance de ne pas se doper, peuvent se transformer en tricheurs, alors n’importe quel jeune peut le devenir".
Source: AFP, 25 August 2019, L'Est Republican
Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC)
Dopage - Les plus mauvais chiffres du cyclisme depuis 2014 !
Le Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC) a rendu public ses chiffres pour le dopage dans l'ensemble du monde professionnel depuis le début de l'année 2019. Et comparé à l'année précedente, le sport cycliste a été durement touché dans sa crédibilité depuis le mois de janvier. 15 cas de dopage ont été avérés sur la petite reine, dont 7 dans le seul monde pro sur route. La raison principale de ce recul ? L'affaire Aderlass révélée par Le Monde et le Corriere della Serra, un réseau de transfusions sanguines mis au jour voilà plusieurs mois. Plusieurs plusieurs coureurs World Tour ont été impliqués, dont Kristijan Koren. Autre chiffre à souligner : la majorité de ces cas concerne des coureurs de trois nationalités : 4 coureurs colombiens ont en effet été attrapés par la patrouille, 3 Slovènes et 3 Autrichiens (ces deux dernières nations étant parmi les plus touchés par l'affaire Aderlass). Pour le moment, aucun coureur de premier plan n'a été concerné de près ou de loin par cette nouvelle affaire de dopage.
Cette mise en garde souvent formulée par Roger Legeay, Président du MPCC, illustre la nécessaire vigilance de tous les instants, concernant les atteintes à la crédibilité du cyclisme. Ce début d’année 2019 nous démontre la pertinence de cette formule.
Quinze cas de dopage ont été révélés en cyclisme depuis le début de l’année, dont 7 chez les pros sur route, après seulement 6 mois. Ces chiffres sont les plus mauvais depuis 2014, c’est-à-dire depuis que nous comptabilisons ici les cas de dopage (mais aussi de corruption).
Ils sont en partie la conséquence d’une enquête policière menée en Allemagne et en Autriche : l’Opération Aderlass, qui concerne au total 7 cas révélés au cours du premier semestre, a mis à jour des pratiques, parfois très actuelles, de dopage lourd (autotransfusions), ce qui jette une ombre sur l’efficacité de la lutte antidopage et vient ternir à nouveau l’image du cyclisme.
On peut toutefois relativiser la portée de certains cas, puisque pour 4 d’entre eux, ces procédures concernent des faits remontant plusieurs années en arrière (2011-2013).
Trois pays sont plus principalement concernés par les cas de dopage recensés depuis le début de l’année : la Colombie (4 cas), la Slovénie (3) et l’Autriche (3).
En cette première moitié de l’année 2019, le cyclisme est donc 4ème dans la liste des disciplines les plus touchés par les atteintes à l’éthique sportive juste derrière l’haltérophilie, le baseball et l’athlétisme. Fin 2018, le cyclisme apparaissait seulement au 13ème rang de ce classement.
Source: 16 August 2019, Cyclism'Actu
Algerian Olympic Committee signs anti-corruption deal with Directorate General for National Security
A deal designed to fight all forms of corruption in sport has been signed by the Algerian Olympic Committee (COA) and the Directorate General for National Security (DGSN) in the country.
The agreement was penned at a meeting between COA President Mustapha Berraf and DGSN director general Abdelkader Kara Bouhadba.
The two organisations claim they will "unite their actions in a merciless fight against the corruption that affects the national sports sector" under the partnership, which covers doping and betting among other areas.
"The mission of the DGSN will no longer be confined to ensuring the safety of players, supporters, referees and stadiums during sports events," the COA said in a statement.
"Through the signing of this agreement, the DGSN will be directly involved in this new mission, the fight against corruption and malfeasance in the national sports environment and which undermine the sports ethics in Algeria."
Berraf, a member of the International Olympic Committee who is also President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, sparked controversy last November when he claimed widespread doping in the country had enabled athletes to compete at and qualify for major international sports events.
He also alleged that he had previously raised concerns about doping in the nation but they had been ignored.
Source: Liam Morgan, 17 August 2019, Insdie the Games
ODDS AND ENDS
Corruption fears in women's football as suspicious betting patterns surge
Six women’s football matches in 2018, including three internationals, were identified as having suspicion betting patterns by a new report shedding light on the growing vulnerability in the women’s game.
The joint report, by the Starlizard Integrity Services, Stats Perform and TXODDS, reveals how suspicious betting patterns for matches have surged.
Six games were identified as having suspicious betting partners in 2018 - in practice, almost invariably a sign of fixing - compared to zero in 2017.
Three of the suspicious betting patterns were in international games, two were in matches between clubs from different nations and one was in a domestic league game.
“While it is not our goal to speculate, we believe the report demonstrates the need for increased education and monitoring in women’s football globally,” said Jake Marsh, head of integrity at Stats Perform.
“It is important that governing bodies act proactively ahead of any major issues occurring so that women’s football’s continued positive growth is assured and corruptors are denied any chance to infiltrate and corrupt it.”
The report adds to concerns about how the surge in interest in women’s football – and the corresponding surge in the amounts bet on games – had made it more vulnerable to corruption.
On the sports betting exchange Betfair, 2.5 times as much was staked on this summer’s Women’s World Cup as during the previous tournament in 2015, with the total rising from £98million to £244million.
“The formula the more money involved – in football or sport in general – equals a higher risk of manipulation/match-fixing/ betting fraud seems to be very close to reality,” warned Severin Moritzer from PlayFair Code, a sports integrity organisation. “Given a potential low level in previous years the surge therefore seems to be rather significant in relative and absolute figures.”
A special report by Telegraph Sport last month revealed the new steps that Fifa had taken to safeguarding the integrity of the Women’s World Cup.
As well as briefings to players and referees and regional integrity workshops, a special integrity task force was created before the competition, with Fifa consulting police forces.
In-game monitoring of betting markets, which entailed analysing markets in real time for suspicious patterns, was conducted at a hub in Paris.
This should be seen as “a first and extremely important step to identify irregularities on betting markets potentially caused by manipulation”, said Moritzer.
The concerns in women’s football are heightened by the enormous pay discrepancy between sides, with most countries in the World Cup not fully professional, and some barely paid at all. This means that such matches could be cheaper for corruptors to fix.
“The presumption of lower income leading to a substantial higher risk of fixing is correct,” said Moritzer. “Also late or not paid salaries for athletes point in the same direction.”
There is a belief within the sport that women’s football in South America could be particularly vulnerable. Interest in women’s football in the continent has grown at a far faster rate than player salaries, and it is feared that corruptors are attempting to exploit this discrepancy.
There have previously been a small number of match-fixing cases in women’s football. Last year, Spanish police made a series of arrests for match-fixing at many levels, including in the women’s first division.
In a separate incident, three Belgium Under-16 players reported being approached and offered $50,000 to fix a game - a sign of corruptors targeting players young with a view to ensnaring players for their whole careers, a tactic that has been imported from men’s sport.
There are wider concerns that corruptors are increasingly targeting women’s sport, not just football. Telegraph Sport last month revealed that several women cricketers have reported corruption approaches this year - the first ever reported approaches in women’s cricket. A total of £685 million was traded on women’s cricket on Betfair in 2018, compared with just £15 million three years earlier.
Source: Tim Wigmore, 19 August 2019, The Telepgraph
Sri Lankans with betting interests to be barred from SLC
Sri Lankans involved in gambling firms will be barred from Sri Lanka Cricket, the nation’s cricket governing body, as officials bid to eradicate match-fixing scandals that have dogged the sport, the government said on Thursday.
Sri Lankan cricket has been mired in corruption scandals in recent years, including claims of match fixing ahead of an international Test against England last year. Sports Minister Harin Fernando said he was introducing regulations to bring the country in line with International Cricket Council (ICC) provisions that ban individuals with connections to gambling firms from being involved in the sport’s administration.
“From now on, anyone who is involved in betting or has a close relative involved in betting will not be able to hold office,” Fernando told reporters in Colombo.
The changes appear aimed at the former president of SLC, Thilanga Sumathipala, whose family owns a gambling business.
Sumathipala, a controversial businessman and politician, is an executive committee member of SLC. He has repeatedly denied involvement in the gambling side of the family business.
Fernando had said earlier this year that the ICC considered Sri Lanka one of the world’s most corrupt cricketing nations, adding the sport’s local governance was riddled with graft “from top to bottom.”
In November, former Sri Lankan fast bowler Dilhara Lokuhettige was suspended for corruption linked to a limited-over league in 2017. He was the third Sri Lankan player charged for violating the ICC’s anti-corruption code, following charges levelled against former captain and ex-chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, and former paceman Nuwan Zoysa.
Jayasuriya was found guilty of failing to cooperate with a match-fixing probe and was banned for two years, while Zoysa was suspended over the match-fixing accusations.
Source: 22 August 2019, Sportstar Cricket
Stats Perform Integrity and Starlizard Integrity Services
Youth football dogged by suspicious betting activity in 2018
A new report from Stats Perform and Starlizard Integrity Services has revealed a slight decline in suspicious betting activity concerning football in 2018, though two matches at the highest level of the game were flagged for potential corruption for the first time.
In addition there was a disproportionately high level of unusual activity around youth football, and despite a decline in the number of matches in Asia being flagged, it remained the largest region for suspicious activity.
In total, however, only 0.61% of all matches monitored were classed as suspicious.
The second annual Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football report, compiled by Stats Perform and Starlizard in partnership with data specialst TxOdds identified suspicious betting patterns around 377 matches over the year.
This marks a decline from 2017 — when 397 matches were flagged — despite an increase in the number of matches monitored to 62,250, across 115 countries and including youth, international, friendly and women’s matches.
However, for the first time, two matches categorised as “Tier 1”, which includes the highest levels of competition and for which the highest stakes can be wagered, were considered suspicious.
Of the 377 flagged matches, 58 involved youth football, even though youth matches made up only 5.6% of the sample.
Games in Asia were overrepresented among the suspicious matches. Of the 7,263 matches in Asia monitored, 69 were flagged as potentially being fixed based on betting patterns. However, this marked an improvement from 2017, when 68 out of 5,075 matches in Asia were flagged.
Africa was the only continent which saw an increased percentage of matches flagged. Of the 1,923 total matches in Africa monitored, five were flagged as suspicious, up from just one out of 1,250 in 2017. The majority of flagged games and total games monitored were located in Europe, where 227 out of 35,469 games were marked as suspicious.
International matches had a greater proportion of games flagged than any continent, with 47 out of 4,896 matches identified.
The report highlighted one European domestic youth league as containing an especially high amount of suspicious betting activity. The number of suspicious matches remained unchanged year-on-year at 8% of fixtures, while one team from this league has no been involved in 13 flagged matches in the past two years. None of the countries, teams or leagues in question were named in the report.
One men’s senior international team had five of its 10 games in 2018 flagged, after having no matches flagged in 2017.
In addition, one European country saw a drastic decrease in flagged matches after “effective action by the governing body and law enforcement,” which included a number of arrests, shut down what Perform said it believed to be an “organised, cross-border match-fixing operation.”
“It is important that the football world remains diligent and alert to integrity threats at all levels of the game," head of Starlizard Integrity Services Affy Sheikh said. "In producing this report, a huge effort has been made and a vast amount of data analysed in order to provide sports and integrity stakeholders with detailed intelligence on suspicious betting patterns across many different competitions and countries.”
Stats Perform head of integrity Jake Marsh added: “We believe that by shining a light on suspicious activity in a non-accusatory public forum we can elevate understanding of the latest trends and areas of concern to integrity stakeholders.
"The efforts of integrity stakeholders, sports governing bodies and law enforcement are amplified when working together towards a common goal. To this end, we share the results of our analysis with stakeholders on a non-commercial basis in order to assist their efforts in protecting the integrity of football.”
In July, the International Betting Integrity Association reported that 18 football matches generated alerts for suspicious wagering activity in the second quarter of 2019, while the Global Lottery Monitoring System reported 324 alerts and 25 red alerts concerning football. On 25 July, Swedish state-owned operator Svenska Spel ceased offering odds on fourth-tier league Division 2 Södra Svealand after integrity monitoring partners revealed that as many as 13 matches in the division were suspected to have been rigged during the spring season.
Source: 14 August 2019, Tunf
Swedish Regulators Crack Down On Esports Betting
The Swedish Gambling Authority recently imposed strict measures that could severely limit the growth of esports betting in Sweden. The new regulation issues penalties to any gambling firm that features odds on sports where the majority of players are under age 18.
For most traditional sports, this isn’t a problem. But as many of esports’ biggest stars are teenagers, the rule could threaten to wipe out esports betting in Sweden. Recently we saw the Fortnite World Cup won by a 16-year old, for one. Many other esports legends, such as Faker, started winning serious prize money at illegal gambling ages in many countries.
For background, the SGA introduced the new law at the start of 2019. To be clear, its aim was to prevent match-fixing from tainting young athletes. Esports has already suffered from match-fixing scandals in the past few years. For example, the legendary StarCraft II player Life was sentenced to 18 months in prison for match-fixing in 2016.
Now, traditional sports shouldn’t feel the effects of the new gambling legislation. Presumably, only under-19 and under-21 matches will forgo wagering. But in the youthful esports scene, many top-level matches soon will be absent from Sweden’s biggest betting sites.
Hugely popular battle royale titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds will be hardest hit by the new regulations.
The Swedish Gambling Authority has already issued a number of penalties to operators. NordicBet drew the harshest rebuke: a 19 million Swedish kronor fine. Betfair, Bet365, Bwin, Betway, and Esportsbetting.com also took punishment.
The effects of this regulation could severely limit the willingness of bookmakers to invest in Sweden’s vibrant esports scene. Sweden is world-famous for hugely popular DreamHack esports festivals. Plus, a number of the country’s gaming teams have signed high-profile deals with betting sites. Notably, Ninjas in Pyjamas‘ Counter-Strike side enjoys a profitable deal with Betway. Who knows whether that can continue at this point.
Although efforts must be made to stop minors from being exposed to match-fixing and illegal gambling, there’s no question the Swedish Gambling Authority’s legislation could ultimately hamper the nation’s burgeoning scene.
Source: 13 August 2019, eSportsBets
Zimbabwe commission asks FIFA to fire soccer bosses
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's government-run sports commission said it has asked FIFA to remove officials in charge of the country's soccer federation from office and appoint a temporary committee.
The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), which regulates sport in Zimbabwe, wants the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) run by a normalization committee until new elections can be held.
The SRC didn't give a reason for the request but it followed a series of dramatic moves by ZIFA in the last week. ZIFA disbanded the entire national team and banned for life its former president, who is currently the head of southern African soccer, for alleged misconduct.
ZIFA said former president Phillip Chiyangwa was banned for submitting an ultimately failed bid for Zimbabwe to host this year's southern African championship without approval from the government or ZIFA board. ZIFA also accused Chiyangwa of playing a role in unsettling the national team, which threatened to go on strike ahead of the opening game of the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in June.
Chiyangwa lost an election to lead ZIFA last year but remains president of the Council of Southern African Football Associations.
He emerged as a power broker in African soccer in 2017 when he ran the successful election campaign for current African confederation boss and FIFA vice president Ahmad. Ahmad surprisingly beat longtime Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou in that election and Chiyangwa's profile rose further when FIFA president Gianni Infantino attended his birthday party in Zimbabwe.
The SRC has recently taken action against other sports bodies in Zimbabwe. It removed the Zimbabwe cricket board from office in June alleging corruption and election irregularities, leading to the country being banned from international competitions by the International Cricket Council because of government interference.
The SRC appears to have learned from that by asking FIFA to act, instead of removing the soccer federation leadership itself.
FIFA also does not allow governments to interfere in the running of national federations.
The SRC is a body that operates under the sports ministry. Former Olympic swimmer Kirsty Coventry is Zimbabwe's sports minister.
Source: AP, 17 August 2019, USA Today
INTEGRITY IN SPORT EVENTS
UEFA reinforces anti-match-fixing campaign
UEFA’s commitment to fighting match-fixing, protecting the integrity of competitions and ensuring the trust of football fans and stakeholders was highlighted at the latest meeting of the UEFA working group on match-fixing in Istanbul, held on the occasion of the UEFA Super Cup match.
Participants discussed a framework for future steps to be taken on key integrity themes included in UEFA’s overall strategy for the period until 2024, Together for the Future of Football.
UEFA has made integrity matters a core element of its mission, given that match-fixing and corruption represent a serious threat to football’s essential soul. “We can do nothing without a belief in and the reliability of our competitions,” European football’s governing body emphasises.
UEFA pledges the following steps as part of its strategy until 2024:
Develop existing and identify new means to protect the integrity of European football competitions.
Improve the ability to detect suspicious activity in relation to doping and match-fixing using advanced technology.
Increase the focus on the impact of potential conflicts of interest on match and competition integrity.
Through joint efforts with clubs, leagues and governing bodies, diligently persist in rooting out activities that undermine our competitions and harm our collective reputation.
The meeting in Turkey brought UEFA together with delegates from national prosecutorial services and police representatives, as well as international police cooperation representatives from EUROPOL and INTERPOL.
Also present were international policy organisations including the Council of Europe and United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and betting experts in the monitoring and integrity fields, including Sportradar and Starlizard Integrity Services. The meeting was co-hosted by UEFA and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).
Given UEFA’s repeated calls for increased cooperation on match-fixing and corruption between state authorities, football stakeholders, governments, policy makers, the betting industry and football, the aim of the Istanbul gathering was to unite experts from various fields to seek new innovative and creative approaches towards tackling challenges presented by match-fixing.
In line with that aim, UEFA presented specific areas of its strategy and other key integrity initiatives related to protecting the integrity of football, and sought constructive and concrete ideas to implement measures in these strategic areas.
The working group discussed, among other things, current UEFA integrity activities such as new educational initiatives and the EURO 2020 integrity action plan, as well as the potential impact of such initiatives in reducing the threat from match-fixing, both in operational and programmatic terms.
The meeting also highlighted issues such as continued difficulties in the applicability of national law in sharing timely information or evidence with sports organisations, and the harmonisation of legal frameworks in football disciplinary regulations, as well as the importance of enacting legislation which establishes match-fixing as a crime in national jurisdictions.
The need was stressed for strengthened intelligence coordination, with UEFA acting as a central point within European football whenever necessary to promote international coordination and share information, alerts, and other intelligence related to match-fixing with competent public authorities.
Additional discussions focused on recent successes in match-fixing investigations and sanctions, with a view towards overcoming problems that have arisen in past cases - such as access to evidence, and lack of police/prosecutorial investigations at a national level when cases are referred from UEFA.
The working group called for solutions to problems that have emerged in tackling match-fixing across borders, through the building of effective structures that included football authorities.
UEFA will now study the proposals and ideas that emerged in Istanbul to identify potential ways forward, to further strengthen its work in this crucial area of the game.
Source: 26 August 2019, UEFA.com
Ukraine officials accused of medical corruption
KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian security services have accused leading sports officials of buying sham medicine for athletes and misappropriating public funds.
The SBU, Ukraine's domestic security agency, said a top Sports Ministry doctor and others spent $310,000 on allegedly deficient medical products or supplements.
The agency added that the medicine had not been checked for compliance with anti-doping rules -- and that some products were not medicine at all.
The SBU said the alleged scheme was a cover to embezzle public money.
The suspects have not been named. It is unclear whether any are currently in detention, and the SBU said some suspects are currently unidentified.
Source: Associated Press, 23 August 2019, ESPN
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