Following the match fixing revelations in Cricket and Snooker which have plagued the sporting world this year, the News of the World alleged on Sunday 17 October that ‘wide-spread corruption’ in English football is about to explode. It has also emerged this week that there are allegations of match fixing within Tennis.
Last week saw the opening of a court case in Germany (Wednesday 13 October) regarding the alleged fixing of games in Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey. Four suspected ‘ringleaders’ of what is alleged to be European football’s biggest fraud scandal are charged with fixing 32 football matches. The trial is bound to question the integrity of lower league football across the continent; if ultimately found guilty of fraud the quartet could potentially be jailed for up to ten years. In a surveillance operation which has apparently spanned Europe, police have investigated nearly 300 games in 15 European countries.
The News of the World alleged on Sunday 17 October that during their extensive investigation, police intercepted match fixing phone calls apparently made from London. Allegedly the police have evidence that matches in England have been thrown and that club officials as well as players have accepted amounts of money to fix games. Sunday’s article suggested that English football is “at the heart of the corruption;” and stated that English clubs below the top tier are thought to be involved. Police apparently believe that 2 premiership clubs have unknowingly been funded by allegedly ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of the alleged betting ring. The police have apparently identified 250 suspects and made 15 arrests.
The Sunday Times reported on Sunday 17 October that two senior members of FIFA’s (the world football governing body) executive committee had allegedly been caught on film agreeing to accept cash in return for votes. Nigerian Amos Adamu is allegedly filmed asking for £500,000, to be paid to him personally, to build four football pitches in Nigeria. Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii, president of the Oceania Football Confederation, allegedly asked for £1.5 million to finance a sports academy. Temarii apparently also boasted that Oceania have been offered between £6 million and £7.5 million by supporters of two bidding countries (currently unnamed.)
These allegations will need to be fully investigated as they could potentially throw suspicion on the nations competing to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, or at the very least give rise to potential concerns regarding the bidding process. England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium are in the competition to host the 2018 competition. The level of scrutiny apparently being applied by Law Enforcement agencies to lower league football could be a precursor to a heightened level of vigilance in relation to international competitions.
In relation to German football, referee Robert Hoyzer was given a two-year jail sentence when it emerged in 2005 that he had rigged a Cup match. Hoyzer awarded two dubious penalties and sent off a Hamburg player in the highly controversial game but was later found to have links with a Croatian syndicate. As well as his jail sentence, Hoyzer was banned for life by The German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund; DFB.)
FIFA rejects accusations that it is not taking the issue of match-fixing seriously. Ahead of the last World Cup, it set up a confidential hotline for players, coaches and referees to report any attempts to bribe them. It also used Early Warning System (EWS), a company formed to watch for match-fixing, to monitor the situation.
It also emerged on 18 October that IMG – one of the biggest sports management companies in the world – is being sued by a printing company. The suit, filed in LA County Superior Court alleges that IMG owner, Theodore Forstmann received inside information from Roger Federer regarding the 2007 French Open final. Jim Agate, who owns the printing company is apparently suing IMG for gambling connected tax losses and has apparently filed phone records at the court which apparently prove Forstmann called him the night before the final and that Agate immediately called a Costa Rican betting service to place the bets. Tennis superstar Federer has lashed out at the allegations saying the whole thing is ‘100% not true.’ Whilst these allegations will need investigation, it shows that sports professionals can be targets and can be victims of corruption in sport.
Following the recent match fixing allegations in Snooker, Cricket and now Football and Tennis, anti-corruption in Sport is a hot topic which is increasingly difficult to police as often the criminal network is worldwide. Also the industry of betting has become more sophisticated as it is now possible to place bets on not only the outcome of the game or match but also on a particular score at a particular time.
We at FrontRow are delighted to announce that our main guest speaker for our 3rd Breakfast Seminar is Rick Parry who will be discussing the impact of corruption in sport on sports professionals and how clubs, associations and the professional sports bodies work together to tackle the issue.