Integrity in sports update: Federations Register to IOC's Integrity Betting Intelligence System ahead of Rio 2016

Long Jump Landing

This week's media recap has a number of investigations that have resulted in prosecutions and it is interesting to note that it’s not just players that were arrested for match-fixing but also club managers and organized crime bosses. It’s a clear indication that authorities across all levels, be it in government, sports and law enforcement are keen to root out corruption in sport.

The announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that all 28 summer International Federations have joined the winter International Federations in being members of the IOC's Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS) is also wonderful news. The IBIS is a monitoring system which will help to fight illegal betting, match-fixing and related corruption in sport.

CURRENT INVESTIGATION

Greece

Former Olympiakos Volou President and current Volos Mayor Achilleas Beos, Super League President Giorgos Borovilos, businessman Giorgos Tsakogiannis, and dozens of players, coaches, betting agents and Greek soccer officials are among 85 of the 158 original defendants who will stand trial for their alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal that rocked domestic soccer in 2011, a council of appeals court judges decided Thursday. The charges the defendants will face include membership of a criminal organization, bribery, manipulation of results and illegal betting. In his recommendation to the court, prosecutor Panayiotis Poulios accused Beos of directing a criminal organization, money laundering and criminal activity that defrauded the then state-controlled gaming company OPAP of millions of euros from 2008 to 2011. Charges were dropped against the rest of the defendants, including Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis, due to a lack of evidence. However, Marinakis was last month banned from soccer by a corruption-investigating judge looking into another match-fixing scandal involving games held between 2011 and 2013. The shipowner and businessman was ordered to post bail of 200,000 euros and to report to his local police station every 15 days until his trial.

Source: "Volos Mayor Beos among 85 to face trial over match-fixing", 30 July 2015, ekathimerini.com, https://www.ekathimerini.com/200099/article/ekathimerini/news/volos-mayor-beos-among-85-to-face-trial-over-match-fixing

Indonesia

Eight months after a scandalous match between PSS Sleman and PSIS Semarang, four PSS players have spoken out on match fixing behind the game. The match was a Group 1 main division fixture on Oct. 26 last year that ended 3-2 in favor of PSS. The Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) was quick to launch an investigation into the alleged match fixing that resulted in the confirmation of a match-fixing attempt. The highest soccer authority in Indonesia then punished several players, coaches and officials of both teams – some of whom were banned from any further involvement in soccer. Four starting players of PSS during the match shared their stories in a discussion forum held by the Indonesian Supporters Discussion Forum (FDSI) in Yogyakarta on Wednesday. The four players, Satrio (defender), Ridwan (midfielder), Moniaga (forward) and Ronald (not his real name), explained how the game plan was pushed by the management to the players. “We [the players] were blamed [for the match fixing], while we were actually the victims,” said Satrio as quoted by kompas.com. Satrio said the match-fixing attempt started with an instruction from club manager Suparjiono to throw the match to avoid being leader of Group 1, so they would not have to face Borneo FC in the semifinal. Suparjiono told the team to avoid Borneo FC if they wanted the chance to be promoted to the country’s top division, Indonesia Super League, Satrio added. The players, according to Satrio, initially refused to obey the instruction – saying they had prepared hard for the match. During the match, they also asked the referee to stop the match as it was no longer a fair game. Ronald, who wore a mask and a hat, told the forum how he was summoned by Suparjiono during the match’s halftime. “In the locker room, the manager told me to create an own goal so we could avoid Borneo FC,” he said. Ronald initially rejected the request, but was summoned to the bench around the 70th minute of the second half and instructed to score an own goal by Suparjiono. Being coerced to do so, Ronald kicked a back pass to the keeper that lead to an own goal. “I really regret doing that. I honestly did not mean to score an own goal,” he said. During the investigation by PSSI, Satrio also added how the manager briefed them on what to say to the investigators. They were told to point a finger at team secretary Ery Febriyanto.Ridwan said he and his teammates only wished to explain the matter by speaking publicly on the scandal; also hoping their sanctions could be overturned. On a separate occasion, Suparjiono denied all accusations when questioned about the matter. “That’s not true. I have no idea and never instructed the players to do anything. This case has been investigated and taken to court by PSSI anyway,” said Suparjiono.

Source: "PSS players speak out on match fixing ", 30 July 2015, Jakarta Post, https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/07/30/pss-players-speak-out-match-fixing.html

Italy & Malta

Police in Catanzaro are in the process of identifying a Maltese person who was allegedly approached to fork out €40,000 in order to finance a match-fixing operation in Italy last April. According to information obtained by Times of Malta, the latest update on the Dirty Soccer probe reveals that an Italian national, who is well-known in local football circles after working for a few Maltese clubs in the past, asked a Maltese contact to give him €40,000 so that he could rig the Lega Pro match between Vigor Lamezia and Casertana, played on April 25 this year. At the time, the Italian suspect had a close association with Vigor Lamezia. Reports in Italy claim that the fixers wanted to rig the game in favour of Casertana, who were playing away from home. Casertana won 2-1. It is being alleged that several bets were placed on the fixed result. The Maltese citizen has not yet been named but according to the reports, the investigators are engaged in efforts to identify the suspect. The Italian man at the heart of the plot to manipulate the Lamezia-Casertana match was among 50 people implicated in the Dirty Soccer scandal which came to light in May after police in the Calabrian city of Catanzaro exposed a massive scam whereby matches from the lower echelons of Italian football (Lega Pro) were fixed for betting purposes. Two Maltese brothers with close ties to two local clubs were also on the original list of suspects issued by the police in Catanzaro two months ago. Those under the investigators’ spotlight include club presidents, players, coaches, officials and financiers. The Vigor Lamezia-Casertana clash is one of four newly-flagged matches, played last season, the Catanzaro police believe were targeted by match-fixers embroiled in the Dirty Soccer scandal.

Source: Kevin Azzopardi, "Maltese asked to fork out €40,000 to rig match – reports", 28 July 2015, The Times of Malta, https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150728/football/maltese-asked-to-fork-out-40000-to-rig-match-reports.578350

Singapore

Alleged soccer match-fixing kingpin Tan Seet Eng, otherwise known as Dan Tan, appeared in High Court again today (July 27) to appeal against an earlier court decision, which saw his application for an order to review his detention thrown out. Tan, 51, is the suspected mastermind of a global match-fixing syndicate. He was one of 14 people arrested in a crackdown on match-fixing cartels in Sept 2013, and was subsequently detained under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act. This law allows the Government to detain suspects indefinitely without trial, should this be in the interest of public safety, peace and good order. Yearly reviews are a must. Lawyer Hamidul Haq, representing Tan, called his client’s detention “illegal”, and argued that match-fixing activities did not constitute activities that harmed public safety, peace and good order. He pointed out that the act was traditionally used as ammunition against communism and secret society and loansharking activities. He also said that the act had no provision for extra-territoriality and asked the court if Tan’s alleged activities had any impact “in and within” Singapore. Addressing this, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun said activities conducted overseas could be taken into account, provided that there was a link to Singapore. And in this case, Tan had operated the match-fixing syndicate from Singapore and recruited runners here. Calling for the appeal to be dismissed, DPP Hay added that match-fixing was a form of organised crime, and “activities of a criminal nature would pose a threat to public safety”.

Source: Valerie Koh, "Alleged match-fixer back in court over detention order", 27 July 2015, Today News, https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/alleged-match-fixer-back-court-over-detention-order

 

GOOD PRACTICE

International Olympic Committee

With a year to go to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, all 28 summer International Federations (IFs) have signed up to the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS) ahead of schedule. They join all the winter IFs in being members of this monitoring platform.

The IOC introduced the IBIS monitoring system in January 2014. The objective was to integrate all of the winter IFs ahead of the Olympic Games in Sochi last year and all the summer IFs before the Games in Rio de Janeiro next year – a goal which today has been met. Commenting on this milestone, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The IOC’s ultimate goal is to protect clean athletes and IBIS is one tool to support us in this endeavour. This monitoring system helps to fight illegal betting, match-fixing and related corruption in sport, all of which threaten the credibility and integrity of sport. It is fantastic news that, after such a short period since its inception, we have all IFs fully on board, highlighting yet again their commitment to the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020.

An intelligence-sharing digital platform, IBIS collates alerts and information on manipulation through betting across sports, event owners and the major sports betting entities. It ensures the monitoring of all Olympic sports, their main international competitions and of course the Olympic Games. IBIS was successfully in operation for the first time during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 with all Olympic Winter IFs taking part in the project.

Source: "All Olympic International Federations join IBIS in fight against illegal betting", 27 July 2015, Olympic.org, https://www.olympic.org/news/all-olympic-international-federations-ibis-in-fight-against-illegal-betting/246618

 

LEGISLATION

India

More than two years and two months after Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ashok Chandila of the Rajasthan Royals were paraded before the media by the Delhi police, a Delhi trial court on Saturday dropped all charges against the three cricketers. It had always seemed pretty far-fetched that cricketers accused of fixing matches or passages of play could be prosecuted under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), a law meant to combat organised crime and terrorism. This law conferred on the police investigative powers that they did not have under ordinary criminal law. But even with these enhanced abilities, the prosecution was not able to establish any of the main ingredients of a crime under this law - "continued unlawful activity" or membership in an "organised crime syndicate". Match-fixing under Indian criminal law. Establishing charges under the MCOCA bears some similarity with establishing a criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code. Both require the prosecution to first establish some "crime". The problem however, is that no Indian criminal statute specifically defines any of the acts involved in fixing a match or a passage of play as a crime. The CBI, in its report about the match-fixing scandal in 2000, had said that only the Prevention of Corruption Act could conceivably be used to prosecute match-fixing. Prosecution under this anti-corruption law hinges on whether the accused person performed a "public duty". Perhaps cricketers representing the country can come within its ambit but its use in the context of a cricketer representing a franchise is quite likely to be futile. The offences of "cheating" and "cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property", which are defined in Sections 415 and 420 of the IPC respectively, have also been put forward in the context of match-fixing and spot-fixing. . It would need a very convincing prosecutor and a credulous judge to establish all these elements of these crimes in relation to allegations of match-fixing or spot-fixing. This is a serious gap in our criminal statutes. Match-fixing and spot-fixing threaten the unpredictability that is the very soul of sport. The criminal justice system plays a key role in the fight against match-fixing because there is very little that governing bodies like the BCCI can do to investigate and punish the organised crime syndicates involved.

Source: Aju John, "Unless Indian law makes match-fixing a crime, players like Sreesanth will always go free ", 27 July 2015, First Post News, https://www.firstpost.com/sports/unless-indian-law-makes-match-fixing-crime-players-like-sreesanth-will-always-go-free-2365618.html

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