News 16 February 2016

Match fixing officially confirmed in Dutch football

The Integrity Unit of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has for the first time officially confirmed that match fixing has occurred in professional Dutch football. The unit’s investigation revealed that Ibrahim Kargbo, who played for the club Willem II, had a meting with match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal about the loss of Willem II in a match against FC Utrecht on 9 August 2009.

Furthermore, the investigation showed that they had also organised a charity match between Willem II and Sierra Leone with the aim to manipulate the match for gambling purposes and that they had agreed on the corruption of national team players from Sierra Leone. The Integrity Unit conducted the survey at the request of the Prosecutor of professional football.

“Dutch football has in this area become one of the last in Europe to officially lose its innocence,” said KNVB Operations Director Gijs de Jong. “We know match fixing does not stop at national borders and the KNVB has always said that it could also reach Dutch competitions. However it’s still hard to swallow now that it’s officially established – for Willem II, their fans and everyone involved in football. At the same time we hope that good comes of this. Namely, that it contributes to the urgency in the Netherlands to combat this scourge in the sport.”


FC Utrecht – Willem II

From email conversations between Kargbo and Perumal it became evident that they had made an agreement on the outcome of the match between FC Utrecht and Willem II. Kargbo indicated that ‘the captain’, then Michael Aerts, and a third footballer would cooperate. For fixing the match they would receive €25,000 per person from Perumal. Despite the fact that FC Utrecht won the match, the ‘fix’ failed according to Perumal. According to him, the agreement was that FC Utrecht should have won by more than one goal. Nevertheless, it was established that they agreed on the outcome of the match. There is not enough (legal) evidence to determine whether Aerts was involved and it is unclear who the third person was.


Charity Match Willem II – Sierra Leone

The charity match was held on November 14, 2009 at the initiative of Kargbo. Perumal was involved in the organisation of the competition, through his company Football 4U. Despite a lack of legal proof that the game was actually fixed, the Integrity Unit asserts that Kargbo and Perumal probably organised the charity match in order to manipulate it for gambling purposes.

Furthermore, it is clear that Kargbo and Perumal over a longer period had contact about manipulating matches of Sierra Leone’s national team.


Matches of Willem II against Ajax and Feyenoord

The reason for the investigation was published in De Volkskrant, which stated that the matches between Ajax and Willem II, and Feyenoord and Willem II, were fixed during the 2009/10 seasons. The Integrity Unit has no information available indicating that the games between Ajax and Willem II (17 October 2009), and Feyenoord and Willem II (19 December 2009), or that any other matches were fixed. The Integrity Unit has no evidence that the Ajax and Feyenoord matches were fixed.


KNVB shares research with UEFA, FIFA and Functional Court

Since Kargbo is no longer a member of the KNVB, the prosecutor can not prosecute him through its professional football disciplinary channels. Therefore the prosecutor made the recommendation to send the report to UEFA and FIFA. The KNVB has accepted this recommendation. In addition, the KNVB has shared the report with the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Financial, Economic and Environmental Offences. The Prosecutor’s Office will carry out a criminal investigation into the matter. Furthermore, the KNVB has used the insights from its investigation for the KNVB’s education programmes about match fixing that it gives to clubs and referees.

Despite that Kargbo is unable to be prosecuted, the board of professional football has decided that Kargbo can no longer become a member of the KNVB, because the interests of the KNVB are at stake. Therefore he can never play football in the Netherlands, become a trainer or fulfil any other function in football.


KNVB calls for better cooperation and detection

The KNVB spoke on Monday during a hearing in the House of Representatives on addressing match fixing in sports. Based on the analysis of the Integrity Unit, the KNVB is fulfilling three recommendations: improving international cooperation, the establishment of a Fairplay unit with far-reaching powers and the investigation of the offense of match fixing.

1. International cooperation

The KNVB calls for greater international cooperation in the field of match fixing. “The research shows that a lot information was already known in 2012 by official bodies in Finland,” says De Jong. “Therefore it is unbelievable in our mind that this information was not available in the Netherlands until mid-2015. That information would naturally much rather be shared. It would be nice if the Dutch government, in its capacity as President of the EU, tackles this area. ”

2. Fairplay unit

The KNVB is strongly in favour of a special investigation unit to combat fraud, money laundering and manipulation in sports. This “Fairplay unit” can be part of the Gaming Authority and shall have powers of investigation and enforcement resources. De Jong: “The Integrity Unit has done a terrific job in our eyes. But the research also shows directly the limitations of a unit of a sports association. During the investigation many people were not obliged to cooperate; the unit could not for example, indict anyone and they did have the powers to demand information. They also did not have the opportunity to punish Kargbo and Perumal. We want a special investigation unit that has this kind of power, and the means to use it. ”

3. Criminalisation

Finally, the KNVB calls on politicians to investigate the offense of match fixing. In the opinion of the KNVB the Dutch criminal law at present has no single criminal provision under which match fixing can be punished effectively in all cases.

• This is an English translatian of the press release issued in Dutch by the KNVB on 15 February 2016. You can access the original by clicking here.

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