Singapore's police have arrested 14 people in an "unprecedented crackdown" on alleged football match-fixing, "seven months after the EU identified the city-state as the base for a sprawling network of well-financed match-fixers that have manipulated hundreds of games in Asia and Europe for years," according to Jeremy Grant of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The move is a sign that "Singapore is moving aggressively on a practice that has alarmed football authorities and clubs across Europe as the number of match-fixing incidents -- most orchestrated by shady networks based in Asia -- has jumped." On Wednesday, the Singapore police and anti-corruption agency said that "they had arrested 12 men and two women in a 12-hour sweep of the island." The individuals, aged between 38 and 60, were being held "on suspicion of being part of an organised crime group involved with match fixing activities." Singapore authorities said the suspected leader of the group and several other people who are "subject of ongoing investigations in other jurisdictions for match-fixing activities" were among those arrested (FT, 9/18). The AFP reported five of the 14, including the suspected leader, "have been detained for further investigations, while the rest will be released on police bail." Police would not comment if Dan Tan, "a suspected Singaporean boss of a major football match-fixing ring, was one of those arrested, saying investigations were still underway." In May, "Tan was charged in Hungary in relation to the alleged manipulation of 32 games in three countries." He is also wanted in Italy in connection with the wide-ranging "calcioscommesse" scandal (AFP, 9/18).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority "is preparing a slew of infraction notices" against Australian Football League side Essendon players and club officials that "could result in lifetime bans from all sport," according to Jacquelin Magnay of THE AUSTRALIAN. Essendon coach James Hird, People and Development Manager Danny Corcoran, former High-Performance Manager Dean Robinson and sports scientist Stephen Dank, as well as players involved in the injecting scene, "are all in ASADA's sights." However, club doctor Bruce Reid, who raised questions about the supplements program, "is likely to avoid an infraction notice." The report, "savagely mocked" by AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou as "garbage," said Dr. Reid would be "cleared of all charges and face no penalty for his role in failing to prevent Essendon players being exposed to health risks and, potentially, anti-doping violations through the injection of exotic supplements" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/19).
TURNING A BLIND EYE: In Melbourne, Caroline Wilson reported the AFL's decision to "turn a blind eye to the welfare failing" of Reid "reeks of a hunger for closure so ravenous that any meaningful message that needed to be sent to the game's medical industry has also been devoured." The settlement with the veteran club doctor who questioned the character of the three commissioners who would have judged him and referred to the AFL as a "malevolent organisation" has "also embarrassed the competition's governing body." AFL execs led by dealmaker Gillon McLachlan have "chosen to exonerate Reid, reportedly for the sake of resolution, claiming the men most guilty at Essendon have been punished." What they have done instead "is demonstrate that expediency rules at AFL House and if you truly choose to fight all the way to court you can avoid punishment" (THE AGE, 9/18).
CRITICISM ABOUND: Also in Melbourne, Mark Robinson wrote "is there one person at the AFL or on the AFL Commission who believes the entire Essendon supplements saga has been handled appropriately, fairly and transparently?" The football public "deserves more." They "won’t get it." By exonerating Reid, they are saying that his conduct as chief medical officer of the club "is not worthy of punishment." Meanwhile, Hird, "who never saw one player injected," Corcoran, "who wasn’t there for three months because his wife died," and assistant coach Mark Thompson, "who tried to the stop the injection program, were hung from the nearest tree" (HERALD SUN, 9/18).
PREPPING FOR 2014: In Sydney, Walsh & Denham reported with the withdrawal of charges against Reid, Essendon Chair Paul Little and former champion Tim Watson declared the Bombers need "to switch their focus swiftly to next year." Essendon "must find someone to replace Hird for next season. Little said that although the decision to drop charges against Reid was welcomed, the club "would need to be proactive in coming weeks." Little said, "I guess the challenges ahead now for the club are getting our coaching role finalised and one or two other appointments but we really are positively looking forward to the future" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/19).
MORE CRITICISM: Also in Sydney, Patrick Smith wrote Demetriou has been the AFL's CEO for 10 years this month. There is "growing evidence that a decade in the hottest chair in Australian sport is long enough." The competition "has reeled from salary cap and draft breaches, from a club charged with curious match tactics and administration, a club thrown out of the finals competition for lack of governance around its drug program." All these "prodigious failures and breaches have been interspersed with, what in any other time and environment, would be seen as heinous errors." A club president "entangled himself in a racial vilification debacle when he somehow contrived to mention Adam Goodes and a gorilla in the same breath." A football player in his end-of-year celebrations "set fire to a dwarf, booked to entertain not to be torched." Other things, "damning breaches," have happened on his watch and they have come "frequently and worryingly of late." The decision to withdraw charges against Reid makes Demetriou "look foolish." It "embarrasses the league." As Demetriou asked all at Essendon "to consider their positions because of critical governance failures, it is time he asks the same of himself" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/19).
The fate of India's tour to South Africa "will depend on the outcome of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Annual General Meeting" on Sept. 29, according to the HINDUSTAN TIMES. The tour's fate "is likely to depend on which group comes to power." Given how upset the current regime has been in dealing with Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat, BCCI President N. Srinivasan's continuation in the president's chair "will not augur well for the SA tour." On the other hand, if Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and former BCCI President I.S. Bindra's camp manages a coup, "CSA can hope of a better deal." As was expected, "there was no headway made" during the meeting between Lorgat and BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel in Dubai on Monday night. The BCCI officials have been suggesting that "even if the tour goes ahead, nothing more than two Tests and three one-day internationals will be possible, although that could lead to heavy losses for CSA that had pinned its revenue on this lucrative tour" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 9/18).
Leaders of Brazil's sporting confederations, "many of whom have been in power for decades, will have their time in office restricted under new legislation enacted on Tuesday," according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. Brazil's Senate "voted to ratify a bill that limits presidents of sporting confederations who receive public funding to a maximum of two terms in office." The bill also "obliges the federations to publish their annual accounts and include athletes in the decision-making process, amongst other conditions." Although the bill must be signed into law by President Dilma Rousseff, "that is expected to be a formality and some of Brazil's best-known sports figures were jubilant at the law's passage. " Three-time French Open tennis champion Gustavo Kuerten, 1994 football World Cup winners Rai and Mauro Silva as well as Popo, a former world champion boxer who is now a deputy, "were all in the Senate to back the legislation." Rai said, "Sport should be an example of modernity, transparency and professionalism" (REUTERS, 9/17).
Cricket's top three nations are "set to further flex their muscles, seeking more money and more power over decision-making" at the Int'l Cricket Council, according to Peter Lalor of THE AUSTRALIAN. Moves are "afoot to see the wealthy nations get a larger share of revenue while there is also believed to be a push for veto powers over the smaller members of the cricket community." England has "moved that ICC profits be distributed according to size, which would mean that India, Australia and England would all receive a bigger share while guaranteeing the small countries would not receive any less." India "generates the most income and believes it should receive the biggest share." Cricket Australia said that "it was not pushing for more money." A CA spokesperson said, "We would need to know the eventual outcome of the size of the pie on the sale of future rights before considering judgments on distributions. CA has not considered asking for a bigger share, and is aware that revenue from these events feeds many mouths" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/19).
Horse trainer Gai Waterhouse "is set for another explosive showdown with racing stewards after failing to report the condition of another horse before a big stakes race," according to Christian Nicolussi of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Stewards confirmed that "they are awaiting to set a date so they can question Waterhouse about the health of Rockabill," who was scratched Tuesday morning ahead of the Group 3 Spring Stakes. It was the stewards -- not Waterhouse -- who were "forced to make the final call on Rockabill after they discovered he was lame." Acting chief steward Greg Rudolph said that there "had been reports Rockabill had experienced health problems a day earlier." Rudolph said, "(Racing New South Wales vet) Craig Suann inspected the horse this morning and the racehorse came out at 10:30am due to lameness issues" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/18).
The Board of Control for Cricket in India's bid to change the existing rule of using two new white balls in One Day Internationals "saw strong opposition from some of the other member Boards," which led to Int'l Cricket Council "only agreeing to use one ball in a curtailed match" (PTI, 9/18). ... Pakistan was "eliminated from the field hockey event at next year's Commonwealth Games after failing to enter the event by the deadline due to an internal sporting dispute." Pakistan has "won four world titles and three Olympic golds in field hockey" (PTI, 9/18). ... A semi-pro football team in Queensland is the latest club "to become embroiled in the match fixing scandal." Two British players who played for Brisbane Premier League club Albany Creek Excelsior and Melbourne's Southern Stars this season "are persons of interest in Operation Starlings, which has uncovered the biggest match fixing scandal in Australia's history" (BRISBANE TIMES, 9/17).