Czech police detain 20 in football corruption probe
Czech police have detained 20 people including deputy Czech Football Association head Roman Berbr over alleged corruption and match-fixing following a nationwide raid, news reports said.
“The police have launched criminal proceedings against 20 people today … regarding an organised crime group active in corruption to fix results of football matches,” High State Prosecutor Lenka Bradacova told Reuters news agency on Friday, confirming earlier reports by local media
Czech Football Association spokesman Michael Jurman confirmed the raid.
“We can confirm that since the morning the police have acted, including a search at the association headquarters,” Jurman said. “We are providing the police with maximum cooperation.”
Local media said those detained included Berbr, a controversial deputy chairman of the Czech Football Association, but Bradacova declined to say whether the long-time official had been charged or detained.
Jurman also declined to comment on the news reports, and Berbr could not be immediately reached for comment.
The case centres on alleged match-fixing in the second and third tiers of Czech football, and officials are also investigating a number of referees, Seznam Zpravy news website reported.
Berbr has held his post since 2013 and according to local media has been pulling the strings in Czech football for years.
The 66-year-old former referee, who is married to the European Union member’s first-ever female referee, Dagmar Damkova, served as a secret police agent during the communist era.
Media have pointed to Berbr in relation to corruption cases and bullying at the FA, but he has never been charged.
His former boss Miroslav Pelta led the FA until he was detained in 2017 on charges of bribery and abuse of power. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted in a trial currently under way.
Source: 16 October 2020, Aljazeera Football
UEFA referee official steps aside in Czech match-fixing case
A member of UEFA’s referees committee stepped aside from her work because her husband is a suspect in a match-fixing investigation, the European soccer body said Wednesday.
Dagmar Damková is a former top referee in women’s soccer and married to Roman Berbr, who resigned Monday as vice president of the Czech Republic soccer federation while implicated in fixing games.
UEFA said in a statement to The Associated Press that Damková “spontaneously decided to step aside from her duties (while) the investigation into her husband is ongoing in the Czech Republic.”
She has not been linked to the corruption case that focuses on men’s games in lower divisions of Czech soccer.
Czech police raided the soccer federation headquarters last week as part of a corruption and match-fixing investigation targeting 20 people, including referees.
Damková is the only woman on the five-person UEFA panel that oversees preparing match officials and selecting them for international competitions.
UEFA said Damková’s work involves selecting officials for women’s international games and competitions but not in men’s soccer.
She also sits on the FIFA referees committee after a career in which she handled women’s soccer finals in the 2008 Olympics, the 2009 European Championship and the 2011 Champions League.
FIFA did not immediately respond to a request to confirm if Damková also stepped aside from working with the world soccer body.
Source: 21 October 2020, AP News Football
Sports Documents handed over to Sports Ministry to probe match fixing
Several documents pertaining to match fixing in a domestic First Class game a couple of seasons back have been handed over to Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa earlier this week to start a fresh inquiry. Several leading cricket officials including those in the Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket are alleged to have conspired to fix a First Class game in 2017. The most high profile name among those who came under the spotlight is SLC Vice-President Ravin Wickramaratne.
Sri Lanka Cricket had launched several inquiries into the incident that brought disrepute to the game and the reports were sent to the Sports Ministry but the findings and recommendations were swept under the carpet under the watch of three different Sports Ministers. However, since the Yahapalana government was defeated, there has been fresh hopes that an impartial inquiry would be conducted into the incident.
Panadura Sports Club and Kalutara Physical and Culture Club fixed a First Class match in 2017 in such a way that the former gained promotion to the elite division while the latter continued to play First Class cricket without being relegated. Officials of both clubs served in the SLC Ex-Co at the moment and it has been alleged that this resulted in investigations moving at snail’s pace.
Among the documents handed over to the Sports Minister earlier this week are the Match Referee’s Report, Local inquiry report, finding of President’s Counsel Palitha Kumarasinghe and affidavits of players who participated in the game.
The affidavit of former Test cricketer Chamara Silva, who captained Panadura directly implies Wickramaratne of promoting foul play and then interfering with evidence when an inquiry was conducted into the matter. Wickramaratne has repeatedly maintained his innocence although he has been accused of being the mastermind of the incident.
The incident occurred at a time when the International Cricket Council had opened up a record number of investigations on Sri Lanka relating to corruption in sports. Several players, coaches and others associated with the game attached to Sri Lanka have been either suspended or provisionally suspended by the ICC.
In that context, SLC’s lukewarm attitude in taking action against the incident has left many disappointed. Despite inquiries being conducted at a cost of huge sum of money, some of these reports have not been even tabled at the Ex-Co meeting causing severe delays.
Wickramaratne has also come under criticism from his colleagues at SLC for drafting in individuals who were directly involved in corrupt practice such as Manager of Panadura SC for administrative roles attached to SLC.
Source: 18 October 2020, The Island Cricket
More Australian CSGO Players Have Been Banned For Betting On Their Own Matches
Just because it’s a video game doesn’t mean there aren’t repercussions for serious breaches of integrity. Like betting on the CSGO match you’re playing in.
The Esports Integrity Commission announced late Friday night that seven Australian Counter-Strike players have received year- long bans for “betting related offences”. In simpler terms, that means some Australians were playing in one of the more higher profile CSGO leagues — the Mountain Dew League run by ESEA — and betting on their own games, or having mates/friends/associates place bets on those same games.
As pointed out when Victoria Police charged five Aussies under the Crimes Act for match fixing, there are genuine consequences for this stuff. Just because throwing a game of Counter-Strike doesn’t mean as much as, say, an A-League player or a cricketer taking a bribe, doesn’t mean you won’t get done. If anything, it’s especially stupid for Australians to be doing it: Australians love to bet on everything, but our scene is relatively so small that keeping an eye on even the smaller leagues is much more manageable for authorities.
It's worth noting that the Esports Integrity Commission can't, for instance, issue VAC bans to the players involved. ESEA ran the Mountain Dew League, but ESIC's members include DreamHack, ESL, WePlay, BLAST, and other organisers, so an ESIC ban is as good as a blacklist from competitive Counter-Strike.
Not all of the players banned bet on their own matches, although ESIC's summary of outcomes says "several associates of the Offending Parties also participated in betting activities related to the matches being played by the Offending Parties". Some of those associates even placed identical bets to the ones placed by the players.
The full list of players banned, and the teams they represented, is as follows:
Stephen “sjanastasi” Anastasi (LAKERS) [now playing as “stvn”] Akram “akram” Smida (Rooster) [now playing as “ADK”]
Daryl “Mayker” May (Ground Zero) Corey “netik” Browne (Rooster)
Damian “JD/The Real Goat” Simonovic (Rooster 2) Carlos “Rackem” Jefferys (Rooster 2)
Joshua “jhd” Hough-devine (Rooster 2)
There's some high profile Australian teams in there. Netik, for instance, and the Rooster team are currently sitting second in the MDL. They frequently pop up at the quarter finals or semi finals of major Australian qualifiers, sometimes going much further. They recently won the local qualifier for the DreamHack Masters Winter 2020 Oceania tournament, played in Perfect World Oceania, beat out ORDER and Avant to finish 2nd in the ESL Australia & NZ CSGO championship, and were one of the four invited teams to have a crack at getting a spot for IEM Beijing-Handan. Ground Zero are frequently in the mix as well, and while they're certainly not on the level of Renegades or Greyhound, they're consistently around the middle of the pack.
It's a bad look that a not insignificant amount of upcoming Australian CS:GO players are screwing around with their futures like this. Sadly, they're not the only ones, as ESIC notes:
ESIC is in the process of investigating additional breaches of the Anti-Corruption Code within the MDL in both Australia and North America. As these investigations relate to other behaviours such as match fixing, they have been significantly more complex. As previously mentioned by ESIC in its release dated 3 September 2020, there are a high volume of investigations being coordinated by ESIC relating to match manipulation behaviour.
Source: 25 October 2020, Kotaku e-sports
Former Japanese boat racer sentenced to prison for match-fixing
The Nagoya District Court has sentenced 30-year-old former boat racer Masaki Nishikawa to three years in prison for violating Japan’s Motor Boat Racing Law.
Nishikawa is alleged to have received cash in return for multiple incidents of match fixing boat races. His three-year sentence comes with an additional penalty of a JPY37.25 million (US$355,000) fine, the Mainichi Shimbun reports.
Akira Masukawa, 53, a relative and office worker, had been accused of conspiring with Nishikawa and also of violating the Income Tax Act for failing to declare profits earned from the races. He received a suspended sentence of five years and a fine of JPY11 million (US$105,000).
In sentencing, the judge said the defendants had significantly undermined the fairness of boat races and the trust of society.
In response to the sentencing, Masaaki Ushioda, chairman of the Foundation of Japan Motor Boat Racing Association, commented, “We are making every effort to enhance thorough compliance instruction, management and the inspection system so that this will never happen again.
“We will not forget this incident and will strive to provide our customers with fair, safe and appealing races.”
Source: 22 October 2020, Inside Asian Gaming boat racing
Legislation against corruption in sports clears first obstacle
ISLAMABAD: The bill to enact laws against corruption in sports has crossed its first obstacle. The bill faced no objections in the National Assembly. It has now been forwarded to the Law and Justice Standing Committee so that it can be given a legal outline. According to the proposed plans, a convicted individual should be sent to prison for 10 years, be fined Rs. 100 million or both. The creation of a special agency for investigation has also been proposed. Member National Assembly Iqbal Mohammad Ali, who presented the bill, stated that the law would include all corrupt practices in cricket and other sports.
“No member objected to the bill. It has now been sent to the law and justice standing committee. It will then be presented back in the national assembly. After that, a law can be introduced. This bill will include corruption in cricket and all other sports,” said Ali. “I have asked that the committee include a retired or serving judge along with a member of an agency such as the FIA. The law should include further investigations into other players and their families,” he added. It should be noted that the bill has been titled as ‘Prevention of offenses on sports act 2020’. The bill also proposes a three-year prison sentence, a fine of Rs.200,000 or both for an official or employee of any department found to have been involved in corrupt practices. An initial plan to create a criminal act against fixing was also presented by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Source: 21 October 2020, Daily Times
Three nabbed for alleged involvement in online gambling racket to be held under POCA
KUALA LUMPUR: The three individuals who were detained for alleged involvement with an illegal online gambling racket will be detained under the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959.
Kuala Lumpur CID chief Senior Asst Comm Nik Ros Azhan Nik Ab Hamid said the trio will be detained from Tuesday (Oct 13) to facilitate police investigations into the gambling syndicate in Cheras.
"We will be detaining them under POCA and will investigate the matter further," he said.
Bukit Aman CID director Comm Datuk Huzir Mohamed had earlier said that the three men, who were previously arrested by graft-busters, have been rearrested by the police upon their release on Sunday (Oct 11).
"They have been arrested to assist with police investigations into an illegal online gambling operation. We will update on the developments in the case from time to time," he said Sunday night.
It was reported that nine individuals who were remanded by the MACC had been released on MACC bail on Sunday (Oct 11). However, the CID has since arrested three of them.
The remand application for the trio was rejected by the courts on Monday (Oct 12) and they were subsequently rearrested by the police.
The MACC had earlier summoned nine senior police officers on Friday (Oct 9) to facilitate its probe as it widens its dragnet in nailing those involved in online gambling and Macau scam activities.
However, sources said the officers had not been arrested in connection with protecting the illegal activities run by a local cartel. “They were summoned to have their statements recorded for now but not arrested, ” said a source with knowledge of the case.
The source said that to date, 39 witnesses had been called up to have their statements recorded and of the number, 19 were remanded.
“The MACC is aggressively tracking the remaining members of the syndicate, with a focus on finding law enforcers involved, ” said the source, adding that the MACC has so far frozen 736 accounts and seized RM101mil in connection with this probe.
The senior police officers were believed to be attached to the Kuala Lumpur and district police headquarters and include two OCPDs and four officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), sources also said.
The police also called up several senior CID officers to help in investigations and give their statements.
Source: 13 October 2020, The Star All Sports
ODDS AND ENDS
Quaterly Bulletin - October 2020
Welcome to the second quarterly bulletin from the Asian Racing Federation council on anti-illegal betting & related financial crime. We have renamed the task force a “council” to better reflect the permanence of the group and our efforts to build our capacity as a think tank aimed at combatting illegal betting and related financial crime. We aim to achieve impact in this area through the strong expertise of the members of the council, which is reflected in the excellent thought leadership produced by the group.
In this bulletin, Professor Jack Anderson, Director of Studies, Sports Law, at the University of Melbourne provides a summary of a study conducted for Harness Racing Victoria which shows the positive impact on horse racing and other sports of integrity units. Professor Anderson reports on a fascinating study of the impact of integrity intervention on the number of entries to race as well as the numbers of public attendance at races, both of which increased after a major criminal investigation involving the police that led to charges and convictions in court. The compelling hypothesis is that successful interventions by integrity units, including the involvement of the police, can lead to increased confidence in the sport.
Not only illegal betting, but also related financial crimes remain a major threat to racing and other sports globally, some of which are reported in the news section of this bulletin. There are great efforts to combat the problems, such as the United Nations Office On Drugs & Crime (UNODC) and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) September MOU to step up their joint cooperation to address threats posed by crime to sport. As part of the MOU, the two organisations agreed to a consultation process with the objective of establishing an independent, multi-sports, international agency to investigate financial corruption, match-fixing and the influence of organised crime in sports. Such an agency would establish trusted reporting lines, form a global pool of experts to provide specialist case management, standardisation of sanctions and disciplinary measures, and establishment of due diligence processes to prevent perpetrators moving between regions and different sports, and escaping justice. It seems that Professor Anderson’s research and findings are indeed prescient.
We welcome input about illegal betting and financial crime affecting horse racing and sports. If you have any comments or feedback please let us know by contacting James Porteous, council Secretary (
Source: 19 October 2020, ARF All Sports
Chess's cheating crisis: 'paranoia has become the culture'
In one chess tournament, five of the top six were disqualified for cheating. In another, the doting parents of 10-year-old competitors furiously rejected evidence that their darlings were playing at the level of the world No 1. And in a third, an Armenian grandmaster booted out for suspicious play accused his opponent of “doing pipi in his Pampers”.
These incidents may sound extreme but they are not isolated – and they have all taken place online since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chess has enjoyed a huge boom in internet play this year as in-person events have moved online and people stuck at home have sought new hobbies. But with that has come a significant new problem: a rise in the use of powerful chess calculators to cheat on a scale reminiscent of the scandals that have dogged cycling and athletics. One leading ‘chess detective’ said that the pandemic was “without doubt creating a crisis”.
The problems are not confined to chess, with similar issues reported in poker, bridge and even backgammon, but they are perhaps most disruptive for a game with a reputation for gravitas and class.
“The pandemic has brought me as much work in a single day as I have had in a year previously,” said Prof Kenneth Regan, an international chess master and computer scientist whose model is relied on by the sport’s governing body, Fide, to detect suspicious patterns of play. “It has ruined my sabbatical.”
Fide’s general director, Emil Sutovsky, described it as “a huge topic I work on dozens of hours each week”, and its president, Arkady Dvorkovich, said “computer doping” was a “real plague”.
At the heart of the problem are programs or apps that can rapidly calculate near-perfect moves in any situation. To counter these engines, players in more and more top matches must agree to be recorded by multiple cameras, be available on Zoom or WhatsApp at any time, and grant remote access to their computers. They may not be allowed to leave their screens, even for toilet breaks. In some cases they must have a “proctor” or invigilator search their room and then sit with them throughout a match.
Sutovsky has also suggested eye-tracking programs may be a way to raise a red flag if a player appears to be looking away with suspicious frequency.
Chess.com, the world’s biggest site for online play, said it had seen 12 million new users this year, against 6.5 million last year. The cheating rate has jumped from between 5,000 and 6,000 players banned each month last year to a high of almost 17,000 in August.
Gerard Le-Marechal, the head of the site’s fair play team, said he had brought in three new members of staff to deal with the problem. “I think it’s to do with people being cooped up. It’s just so easy to do, so alluring, and it’s without doubt creating a crisis.”
The growth in cheating and a corresponding explosion in social media discussion of the problem has created a new atmosphere of suspicion and recrimination. “Paranoia has become the culture,” said Le-Marechal, whom a friend declared “the cyber chess detective” when he got the job. “There is this very romantic vision of the game which is being scuppered.”
While chess.com is reluctant to reveal details of its system, Regan describes his as “a model that detects cheating as the deviation from the proclivities of an honest human player”. With enough evidence, such models produce a high level of confidence that a given player could not possibly have played a particular set of moves unaided.
The most prominent of the recent disqualifications came in the PRO Chess League when the St Louis Arch Bishops, a team made up of top American players, lost in the final to the underdog Armenia Eagles.
The Eagles’ victory rested on the performance of Tigran Petrosian, an Armenian grandmaster and the world No 260, who stunned commentators with his victory over Fabiano Caruana, ranked second in the world.
Petrosian attributed his play to the gin he sipped during the game. But suspicious observers suggested he seemed to be glancing away from his screen frequently, and chess.com later overturned the team’s wins and banned him for life.
Petrosian later called the claims “idiotic, invented allegations”. He posted a lengthy rant addressed to another opponent, the world No 8 Wesley So: “You are a biggest looser [sic] I ever seen in my life! You was doing PiPi in your pampers when I was beating players much more stronger than you!… you are like a girl crying after I beat you!”
So, for his part, told the Guardian in an email that he felt sorry for Petrosian. Perhaps thinking of Lance Armstrong, he added: “I was a big fan of a certain cyclist and a part of me understands the pressure to succeed at all costs. At the same time I feel pain for other competitors ... Who will restore what was taken from them?”
Conrad Schormann, who has covered the cheating crisis as news editor of chesstech.org, notes that Petrosian did not appear to get help on every move, making the suspicious behaviour even harder to spot. “In his games there were abnormalities, sequences that he played godlike, but there were blunders as well,” he said.
Such controversies have been replicated even in the lower-stakes world of junior play. Sarah Longson, a former British ladies’ champion who runs the Delancey UK Schools’ Chess Challenge, said at least 100 of 2,000 online participants cheated.
The cheating was blatant, she said, with mediocre preteens at the level of the world champion, Magnus Carlsen. “But only three of them admitted it, which is pretty disgusting.” After realising the night before the final that the top three qualifiers had all been cheating, she said, “we stayed up til 3am deciding what to do” and nearly cancelled altogether.
“It’s the children from the private schools, sadly,” she said. “When I ring their parents they just get angry with me. They’re under such pressure to succeed.”
Without a significant culture change, most say, the cheats are unlikely to go straight. Regan is realistic but determined. “If you cheat on a single move I will disclaim any ability to catch you,” he said. “You can fly under the radar. But if you keep going at the same rate, you will come into the radar in the end.”
Source: 16 October 2020, The Guardian Chess
INTEGRITY IN SPORT EVENTS
INTERPOL and Council of Europe
INTERPOL / CoE webinar on the new typology of sports manipulations
Experts of the Council of Europe Network of the National Platforms (Group of Copenhagen) presented the “Typology of Sports Manipulations” to the members of the “Match-Fixing Task Force” (IMFTF) as part of a webinar organised by INTERPOL. Over 160 officials from law enforcement agencies dealing with organized crime, sports corruption, money laundering, economic and financial crime, gambling and cyber-crime as well as judicial authorities and an Attorney General Office from more than 50 countries participated.
The activity took part of the close cooperation between INTERPOL and the Council of Europe for the promotion and implementation of the Macolin Convention. The webinar was an opportunity to highlight the central role played by law enforcement within the National Platforms.
The Group of Copenhagen has elaborated the Typology as an innovative pedagogical tool for the use of its members listing the different types of competition manipulation that fall within the article 3 of the Macolin Convention. The 33 countries members of the Group of Copenhagen have laid the groundwork for transnational cooperation, thus enabling the exchange of information, experience and expertise essential to combating the manipulation of sports competitions.
The Typology now clarifies the definition of manipulation of sports competitions and offers a common terminology to all those involved in the fight against this scourge.
Source: 21 October 2020, Council of Europe
Pakistan cricketer reports match-fixing approach to officials
KARACHI: Pakistan cricket authorities on Thursday said a player has reported being approached by a bookmaker during an ongoing domestic tournament, as officials celebrated a rare win in the fight against match-fixing in sports.
Source: 15 October 2020, The Times of India Cricket
PACE urges EU to end ‘Malta deadlock’ which is undermining the fight against manipulation in sport
PACE is urging the European Union to rapidly resolve the “institutional deadlock” imposed by Malta over the definition of ‘illegal sports betting’ which is preventing the Union and its member States from ratifying a Council of Europe convention aimed at tackling the manipulation of sport.
Unanimously approving a resolution today based on a report by Roland Rino Büchel (Switzerland, ALDE), the Assembly’s Standing Committee said it found “no justification” for Malta’s position, which contests a definition in the Convention affecting its gambling revenues, and urged it to stop seeking new avenues to amend the definition, a move which would “paralyse” the Convention.
Only seven Council of Europe member States have ratified the Convention since it was agreed five years ago, which is just enough for it to enter into force, while some 19 states who have signed it – indicating their willingness to adopt it in principle – have delayed ratification after being “entangled” in the EU decision-making process.
The Convention lays down provisions to outlaw and sanction illegal betting activity in sport, ensure that law enforcement can work trans-nationally to combat it, keep sensitive data out of the hands of criminals, and promote awareness of ethics and integrity among athletes, coaches and sports associations. It creates a collaborative partnership between governments or their national sport platforms, sports governing bodies, national lotteries, sports betting operators and other relevant stakeholders.
Integrity in sport is “generally low” on the political agenda, PACE pointed out, urging states to take more robust action against money-laundering and illegal betting associated with sport – especially in light of the drastic impact of COVID-19, which has boosted illegal activity in sport.
“The time to act is now,” the parliamentarians urged, pointing out that further delay would only benefit criminal networks and undermine sport.
Source: 13 October 2020, PACE All Sports
Svenska Spel and SvFF brand Sweden as ‘Zombie nation’ on sports integrity
In a joint-article published by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Svenska Spel CEO Patrick Hofbauer and Swedish FA (SvFF) General Secretary Håkan Sjöstrand have called for an immediate overhaul of Sweden’s ‘match-fixing council’.
The Swedish government established its match-fixing council on 1 January 2019, coinciding with the launch of Sweden’s re- regulated online gambling marketplace.
The council was earmarked as a key agency supporting a new era for Swedish gambling laws whilst also helping maintain public safety through sports integrity.
Sweden’s council was spearheaded by Swedish gambling inspectorate Spelinspektionen, in participation with the country’s federal police force, justice agencies and numerous government departments.
Despite its high-profile ranks, Hofbauer and Sjöstrand state that two-years on from its formation, the council has been transformed into a zombie agency, unable to deliver any safeguards on integrity protections.
The executives, who have participated in meetings, detailed that the council has failed outright on its founding objective of improving coordination between stakeholders on the complexities of tackling match-fixing.
“Leading the match-fixing council in the fight against manipulation in sports must involve full focus on concrete measures to achieve the goals. As the Spelinspektionen does not interpret its assignment in this way, the council functions more as a discussion forum than as a task force,” the article stated.
The executives stated their disbelief, that the council had not yet implemented any form of ‘national process’ to instantly report on suspicious match-fixing or wagering activities between parties.
Hofbauer and Sjöstrand stated that Swedish Social Minister Ardalan Shekarabi, the architect of Sweden’s new gambling laws, should be made aware of the council’s failure in which ‘the work against match-fixing has lost its focus and energy’.
The article implores Swedish agencies to recognise and adopt an international framework for combating match-fixing, in which Hofbauer and Sjöstrand state that Sweden has neglected its duties by not signing up to the ‘Council of Europe Convention against Manipulation in Sport’.
As representatives of Swedish betting and football, Hofbauer and Sjöstrand underline that the European Convention has established clear structures and stakeholder commitments on how to form a national platform upholding sports integrity – in which 51 countries have successfully participated in co-sharing data, knowledge and information.
At present, Sweden acts as the only Scandinavian country not to participate in the European Convention’s integrity schemes: “We now have, among others, companies from Malta, Turkey and Romania among the countries that have not yet signed the convention,” they said.
Hofbauer and Sjöstrand concluded: “The council against match-fixing has been active for almost two years but has not yet become the powerful tool against match-fixing that we both believed and hoped for.”
“Remember that match-fixing is not an innocent little crime, it is a crime that not only poses a threat to sports but also to society at large as a source of funding for criminal networks.”
Source: 13 October 2020, SBC News
SAfrican cricket in danger of ban as government intervenes
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Africa is in danger of being banned from international cricket after its government said Wednesday that it intended to intervene in the affairs of the sport’s national body following revelations of serious misconduct by senior officials.
The statement from sports minister Nathi Mthethwa said he had informed the International Cricket Council of the intended action. The ICC’s constitution forbids government interference and the punishment is normally a ban from international games for the country’s teams until the national cricket body is operating independently again.
The ICC confirmed it had received notice of “potential intervention” from the sports ministry but no complaint of interference yet from Cricket South Africa.
“Members are encouraged to resolve matters directly with their governments. We will continue to monitor the situation,” the sport’s governing body said.
The tension between the South African government and Cricket South Africa relates to a long-running investigation into the affairs of the cricket body, which resulted in the firing of CEO Thabang Moroe for serious misconduct in August.
But Cricket South Africa refused to make the report by independent investigators public and also resisted an attempt by the government-aligned South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee to conduct its own investigation into CSA.
CSA ultimately relented and publicly released a summary of the forensic investigation’s findings this month, more than two months after it received the report. CSA was also forced to hand over the full report, nearly 500 pages long, to a committee of South African lawmakers last week after they demanded to see it.
The parts of the report that have been publicly released revealed serious misconduct and possible acts of corruption and implicated Moroe and former chief operating officer Naasei Appiah in the wrongdoing. They were both fired but lawmakers who saw all the documents questioned Tuesday why other executives and board members at the body were not investigated, and if CSA was trying to hide wrongdoing by others.
They called it “a one-sided report.”
CSA is currently operating with an acting president and an acting CEO, and the board has been severely criticized for failing to act to stop the misconduct during Moroe’s tenure.
On Wednesday, Mthethwa said a series of meetings with CSA “to try and assist CSA to stabilize its governance matters” had come to nothing and accused the cricket body of being uncooperative.
“I have now reached a point where I see no value in any further engagement with CSA,” Mthethwa said. The sports minister gave cricket officials until Oct. 27 to argue why he shouldn’t intervene.
Source: 15 October 2020, Washington Post
Three Years Ago, the College Basketball Corruption Scandal Promised a Reckoning. Where Is It?
In May 2019, NCAA vice president of enforcement Jon Duncan walked into a ballroom at the Sandestin Hilton in Destin, Fla. Facing an audience of Southeastern Conference administrators and coaches at the league's annual spring meetings, Duncan repeated his mantra: "Our mission is to protect compliant schools."
At that point, it had been 20 months since federal investigators filed indictments against several college basketball coaches and insiders for their roles in a bribery scheme that exposed the sport's corrupt underground economy. At least a dozen Division I programs were implicated in the scandal, including four SEC programs—Auburn, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina. But on that spring day in 2019 when Duncan spoke to leaders of that conference, not much had happened yet from an NCAA investigative perspective. And since that day, another 16 1/2 months have passed without any tangible impact.
The NCAA enforcement staff's stated mission: not accomplished.
Only one program has gone through the investigative process and been penalized. That was Oklahoma State, which in June was hit with a 2021 postseason ban related to bribes accepted by former assistant coach Lamont Evans. There are at least 11 others tied up in the federal probe that are at various stages of the collegiate investigative process: North Carolina State, Kansas, TCU, Creighton, USC, Louisville, Arizona and the four SEC schools mentioned above.
Despite ongoing major infractions cases, three of those SEC schools have scored major recruiting coups this month: Auburn got a commitment from national top-five prospect Jabari Smith; LSU received a commitment from top-50 prospect Alex Fudge; and Alabama beat out Auburn and others for top-15 prospect J.D. Davison, one of several recent power moves by the Crimson Tide. Compliant schools are still losing out on the recruiting trail to schools that have not yet paid a price for alleged violations.
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“I know what’s going on,” said South Carolina coach Frank Martin. “I know who’s doing what. If I was a prosecutor, I’d go after people. But I’m not. I’m a coach. So I stay away from certain situations when I know what’s going on. I’m not going to recruit against them.
“But if nothing is done, the message is that cheating is O.K. You can do what you want and nothing happens. There’s cheaters in every profession, but they’ve got to be dealt with. This [FBI investigation] was like an IRS audit. Our business was audited, and when something is audited, you find the problems and fix the problems. Our business has yet to fix the problems. It’s time to fish or cut bait.”
Six National Signing Days have come and gone since the scandal broke open. The seventh looms next month. And impatience with the continued employment of several accused coaches has reached a boiling point—nationally, yes, but perhaps most acutely within the SEC.
“I’ve been in this game so long, nothing surprises me,” said Tennessee’s Rick Barnes. “I don’t worry about what other people do. But what we all want, once something happens, let’s get to the bottom of it quick. That’s where the frustration is. We wish the process would go quicker.”
Auburn was involved in the federal investigation from the first day, after former assistant Chuck Person was charged with bribery. It was the second major infractions case on the watch of head coach Bruce Pearl, who was fired at Tennessee and given a three-year show-cause penalty in 2011 for lying to the NCAA about violations he committed. Auburn still has not yet acknowledged receipt of a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, and athletic director Allen Greene declined to answer questions from Sports Illustrated about its ongoing case.
Source: 21 October 2020, SI NCAAB Basketball