Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Federbet is to take the Malta FA (MFA) to court, after it claimed that evidence the anti-match-fixing organisation gave to the European Parliament about match-fixing in Maltese league football was driven by commercial interests. “We were invited to a meeting at the European Parliament last Wednesday”, Federbet’s Secretary General, Francesco Baranca, told the Sports Integrity Initiative. “It wasn’t a meeting – it was an attack on us.”
The meeting between Baranca, MFA Integrity Officer Franz Tabone and Belgian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Marc Tarabella was organised by Maltese MEP Therese Comodini Cachia. It concerned a Federbet report (reproduced below) presented to the European Parliament in June 2015, which read: ‘Every week, the European betting houses remove en bloc matches from leagues like Albania, Cyprus, Malta, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Indonesia and Canada – the tenth least corrupt country in the world – because they clearly reflect signs of being fixed’. Federbet is based in Brussels.
In a 4 December statement, the MFA said that at the meeting, it ‘was evident that the allegations Federbet made concerning corruption in the Maltese league were not based on tangible information that can help the MFA combat corruption, but were made purely for commercial purposes’. The statement accused Federbet of ‘trying to gain recognition from several football associations that are not based on concrete facts’.
Shortly after Federbet released its June report, the Portuguese football league (LPFP) reported the company to Portugal’s federal prosecutor, after it claimed that a SC Freamunde vs. SD Ponferradina in 2014 was a fixed ‘ghost game’. An LFFP statement said that Federbet had ‘offered, unsuccessfully, its services to the LPFP and its associates for completely unaffordable amounts, and the formula that it has been using involves a means of absolutely deplorable pressure: instead of reporting suspected criminal behaviour to the competent authorities in a reserved manner, without public outcry, it chooses to publicly cast suspicion on our clubs and sporting competitions.’
Last year, France’s Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) and the country’s gambling regulator, ARJEL, dismissed Federbet’s claims that a Ligue 2 match had been fixed within France. However, in October this year, a leaked report from the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) found that up to 60 Canadian Soccer League (CSL) games were fixed by European crime gangs in the last year, as indicated in the Federbet report.
Federbet argues that its system processes flows of abnormal betting and has been used by prosecutors investigating the Cremona, Catanzaro and Catania match-fixing investigations in Italy, and the ongoing investigations in Spain. It said that many international bookmakers refuse to take bets on Maltese football. “Whilst Federbet states that it has ‘found fixed matches,’ it is difficult what to make of the matches listed, as there is no real supporting evidence”, said Khalid Ali, Secretary General of ESSA, which represents licensed betting operators in protecting the integrity of sport.