Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Norwegian football association (NFF) has welcomed the conviction of three former professional footballers on 29 April for attempting to fix matches in Norway’s third division in June 2012. ‘This judgment sends out an important signal that you do not fix matches in Norway and go unpunished’, read a statement from NFF General Secretary Kjetil Siem. ‘We are pleased that the police took the matter as being of the highest level of seriousness, and I commend the clubs – spearheaded by Follo FK – for the way in which they have handled a difficult case head on’.
The three former footballers were convicted on fraud and corruption charges, for colluding with a Swedish gambler, reported Reuters. According to the news service, former Follo FK goalkeeper Drin Shala and Asker Fotball striker Alban Shipshani were sentenced by Oslo District Court to eight months in prison, while former Follo FK player Formose Pape Mendy was given a six month sentence. It is understood that all three players were fined 30,000 Norwegian Krone (€3,500).
Following a complaint from the NFF, it is understood that police investigated a series of major bets placed on two third division matches played on 24 June 2012. Both matches were lost by Follo FK and Asker Fotball. Reuters reported that the trial lasted for three weeks during which the court heard secret recordings of telephone conversations and details of illicit meetings in Sweden where offers were made to fix results. Two other players were also charged for the same offence, one former Follo FK player and one from Asker Fotball were acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Associated Press reported that two further men who laid bets on the games were also convicted; a 44-year-old Swede was sentenced to 18 months in jail and fined 340,000 Norwegian Krone (€40,200), while a Norwegian was fined 2,500 Krone (€296).
Siem emphasised that although ‘both FIFA and Norsk Tipping monitoring gives no indication that match-fixing is a problem in Norwegian football’, preventative measures have been implemented in association with the state gambling operator Norsk Tipping, which sponsors Norway’s top division. ‘This has been a difficult issue for football from day one, and we fully understand the impact that this has on the players acquitted’, read his statement. ‘In view of the serious information, we had no other option than going to the police. Match-fixing violates everything that the sport stands for’. All three convicted players are understood to be considering appeals.
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