Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 10 No. 25

Leagues and Governing Bodies

An Int'l Centre for Sport Security report released Thursday said that criminals "are using betting on sports events to launder" $140B each year, according to Pretot & Weir of REUTERS. The report exposes "a lack of effective regulation that allows match-fixing to spread." The ICSS' Chris Eaton said, "The rapid evolution of the global sports betting market has seen an increased risk of infiltration by organized crime and money laundering." The report, compiled by the ICSS think-tank and the Sorbonne university in Paris, said that 80% of global sports betting "was being carried out on illegal markets, placing it beyond the reach of regulators and investigators." According to the report, 53% of the illegal betting comes from Asia, while 49% of the legal market is based in Europe (REUTERS, 5/15). In London, Roger Blitz reported the report highlighted "poor co-operation" between stakeholders at national and int'l levels. It also said that measures to prevent sports betting fraud and educate professional sportsmen and women "have only recently been launched." Sports betting regulations "needed enhanced powers, such as cross-border agreements to draw up a blacklist of illegal operators, coupled with the ability to block payments and withdraw licences from betting operators." The authors also "called for a sports betting tax to fund match-fixing investigations" (FT, 5/15). The BBC's Richard Conway reported between £160B and £400B ($268B-$461B), about 2% of global gross domestic product, "is wagered on sport each year." Eaton: "The transformation of the nature of betting, with more complex types of betting, such as live betting -- which according to this study is the most vulnerable -- has made suspect activity even harder to detect" (BBC, 5/15). In Melbourne, Jacquelin Magnay noted cricket and football "are named as the two sports most vulnerable." Report contributor Stuart Page said that sport "was integral to the fabric of Australian society and the Australian government was in a perfect position to take the lead and encourage its Asian neighbours to form a regional inter¬≠governmental approach to combat the problem." Page: "Australia can take the lead ¬≠especially through its links in the region through ASEAN and APEC" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 5/16). While the researchers estimated there are about 8,000 legal operators mainly operating in offshore low tax zones, they said it was “impossible” to say how many illegal gambling operations exist (London TELEGRAPH, 5/15).

FIGHTING FRAUD: In a separate piece, Pretot wrote betting fraud, not match fixing, "should be the main target for those fighting for cleaner sport and there must be a global crusade." While China "has started to tackle the problem, other countries in Asia have yet to fight betting fraud." Eaton: "China, India, United States, France have a very good lead in this but this is not matched by the Philippines, not matched in other parts of South East Asia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, where there is massive betting but all ... underground." Betting fraud also infiltrates the European and South American markets. Eaton said, "The matches that are being fixed are mostly in Europe or Central America, South America because they are the ones that are the most gambled on" (REUTERS, 5/15).

Anti-corruption forces "are investigating the most detailed evidence yet of widespread fixing across the cricketing world," according to Nick Hoult of the London TELEGRAPH. Former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent has provided officials from the Int'l Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit "with a treasure trove of information about matches which were targeted for spot-fixing and the names of players who were involved." Domestic matches played by English counties "are among those about which Vincent has provided detailed evidence" from the period when he was playing for Lancashire and Sussex, along with details of fixing in at least four other countries. Vincent "has also informed them of the details of an approach by another corrupt player to a current international captain, who turned down the offer and reported it to anti-corruption officials." Investigators from the ICC’s anti-corruption unit "are working with detectives employed by cricket boards around the world to piece together a complex case." Vincent "has agreed a plea bargain in the hope of avoiding a criminal prosecution for his involvement in and knowledge of spot-fixing in five or more countries over a four-year period" between '08-12 (TELEGRAPH, 5/14).

CA SPEAKS OUT: In Sydney, Chloe Saltau reported Cricket Australia's own anti-corruption detectives "have been assured that no Australian players, teams or matches are being investigated." But the scandal "has widespread implications for world cricket." CA "has a financial stake" of 30% in the Champions League. While CA "has no reason to believe any of its players are under scrutiny, its surveillance team remains on high alert after an explosion in betting on the Big Bash League last summer" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 5/15).

ECB RESPONDS: In London, Richard Hobson reported the England & Wales Cricket Board and Lancashire "refused to comment." The ICC said "it does not comment on ACSU investigations." The publicity "is a timely reminder of the threat posed by illegal bookmakers in the subcontinent on the eve of the revamped Twenty20 competition in England." The ECB "is not planning to alter a strategy for policing the threat of spot-fixing, believing that it worked successfully in 2013" (LONDON TIMES, 5/15).

NZC REACTION: In Auckland, Dylan Cleaver reported New Zealand Cricket "have confirmed that games involving the Auckland Aces at the 2012 Champions League in South Africa are being investigated by the ICC." NZC CEO David White said, "We can confirm the following: No games played in New Zealand are being investigated by the ICC. No current Black Caps are being investigated. No matches involving New Zealand national teams are being investigated, however we have been informed by the ICC that some Auckland Aces matches in the Champions League in SA in 2012 are being investigated" (NZ HERALD, 5/15).

Concussions "remain one of the biggest issues facing rugby, but the sport is finding it a struggle to find even enough former players to take part in a study into the long-term effects of head trauma," according to Emma Stoney of the N.Y. TIMES. One study at the Auckland University of Technology "hoped to look at 600 former athletes, 35 to 55 years old, from several sports popular in New Zealand." The study began in Aug. '12, and researchers had hoped to turn over a final report to the Int'l Rugby Board a year later, in Sept. '13. Researchers "had to extend the study through last month but still could get only 106 former top-level rugby players to sign up, along with a total of 63 former cricket and field hockey players, though they were able to get 200 amateur rugby players." Patria Hume is the lead researcher on the study and the director of the university’s Sports Performance Research Institute, New Zealand, which is coordinating the study. Hume: “It’s just been incredibly hard to recruit people." But Hume was confident that the study "would provide sufficient information" for the IRB to take action. She said, "Given the provisional results, the analysis, and the numbers recruited, I’m fairly confident the IRB will be able to make some good, clear recommendations of what some of the issues are." The New Zealand study "is not the only one." An independent study recently started in Scotland "hopes to find conclusively whether or not rugby players are suffering long-term consequences from head injuries and concussions" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/15).

The Mercedes F1 team tried out its "'megaphone exhaust' to try to rediscover some excitement in Formula One's aural experience and declared the big metal trumpet as a failure," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Driver Nico Rosberg "hopped out of his Mercedes at the test session at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on Wednesday and gave his solemn verdict on the makeshift engine amplifier." Rosberg: "Unfortunately, it didn't change anything. There was nothing. It was all the same." The conundrum "goes on, then." F1 is now officially caught between the "rock of the anger" of F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone and "peeved race promoters who want the old shriek back -- the visceral scream of petrol power at high-revs -- and the hard place of manufacturers who want the sport to concentrate on developing equipment" that has meaning in a world "changing fast to environmental technologies" (LONDON TIMES, 5/15). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported the softer sound provided an "immediate controversy when the season started in Australia in March with some race promoters, who met in Barcelona on Saturday, fearing ticket sales could fall off if fans were alienated by the lack of decibels." Others in favor of the quieter new era argue that "increasing the noise goes against the greener spirit of the regulation changes, which reduce wasted energy from the exhaust and brakes and harness it to improve fuel economy." Mercedes Exec Dir Toto Wolff said last weekend, "It's an interesting moment in time for Formula One. Traditionally you would have said... that Formula One needs to be loud to be spectacular. Maybe now that's changing" (REUTERS, 5/15).

RED BULL DENIES BENT CHASSIS: Baldwin reported in a separate piece Red Bull denied reports that driver Sebastian Vettel's early season struggles were "due to his car having a crooked chassis." The 26-year-old German was given a "new" chassis for last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona and "charged to fourth." Red Bull Chief Engineer Paul Monaghan said, "The 'old' chassis has not been found to be distorted" (REUTERS, 5/15).

Pakistan announced that its cricketers on "central contracts" would get a 25% salary increase and a 35% rise in "match fees this year," according to the AFP. The hike will be "backdated to January, when the players' contracts had been up for renewal." The Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement, "This increase will be in addition to a further 25% increase in Test match fee and 10% increase in One Day International match fee for the players" (AFP, 5/15). In Lahore, Ahad Awan reported the PCB will "also pay 50% of the outstanding dues of players" from January, while the remaining 50% will be "paid after the completion training camp currently underway in Lahore" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 5/14).

ASHRAF AUDIT: Awan reported in a separate piece an internal comprehensive audit by the PCB covering the "22-month span of former chairman Zaka Ashraf's administration has pointed to a staggering level of financial extravagance, with especially lavish spending on travel." Ashraf has "denied any irregularities and called it a smear campaign against him." Ashraf had been "dismissed earlier this year" by Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, the PCB patron, who "also dissolved the board of governors." The main reason for that was a "slew of alleged financial irregularities and mismanagement of the board" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 5/14).

In an attempt to get back the Indian Premier League final on June 1, the Mumbai Cricket Association on Thursday agreed to "all the terms and conditions laid down" by IPL Chair Ranjib Biswal, including "temporarily lifting the ban on superstar Shah Rukh Khan," according to the PTI. MCA VP Ravi Savant said, "We had received letter from IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal dated May 13, and there were as many as 14 conditions. We have decided to accept all the conditions." Shah Rukh was "banned for five years from entering MCA premises, including the Wankhede Stadium," after he was "allegedly involved in an ugly skirmish with security staff and officials of the cricket body after his team's victory over Mumbai Indians" (PTI, 5/15).

The Hong Kong FA said that "it is working on an action plan to tackle match-fixing and corruption following a key meeting with Interpol last month." The meeting was held "in an attempt to be proactive and tackle any match-fixing and corruption issues in Hong Kong football" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 5/15). ... The true extent of homophobia in sport "will become much clearer" with the establishment of a world-first int'l research project launched on Friday by the Australian organizers of this year's Bingham Cup gay rugby tournament and members of the Sydney Convicts rugby club. For the first time, rather than anecdotal evidence of the challenges faced by gay athletes and sports fans, "the survey-based study will provide quantifiable data for organisations" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 5/15). ... The National Rugby League Integrity Unit "has turned its attention to phone contact between Ryan Tandy and jockey manager John Schell as it steps up its investigation into claims NRL head of football Todd Greenberg knew the late footballer was betting on league games" (SMH, 5/15). ... The 10 teams competing in the new FIA Formula E Championship received their first batch of Spark-Renault SRT_01E race cars on Thursday, at the same time the doors to their new facilities were officially opened. With both projects delivered precisely to schedule, each team received one fully-electric single-seater which has been designed and built by Spark Racing Technology, together with a consortium of names in motorsport including McLaren, Williams, Dallara, Renault and Michelin (Formula E).