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16th March 2018
The Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional (LPFP) has reported anti-match fixing organisation Federbet to the country’s federal prosecutor, after it published a report into match-fixing suggesting that 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. The example today is clearly a demonstration of this action.’
The LFPF said that it had been working with the Portuguese football association (FPF) and the police to investigate match-fixing. It said that the FPF had received support in this area from a competitor to Federbet, which operates ‘in a reserved manner and without launching public suspicions that could case irreparable damage to the image of clubs and the people that work in them, as has now been seen in relation to the report lodged by Federbet, which has tried to sell its services to the LPFP without success’.
The game in question was scheduled to take place on 4 August 2014 at the Sao Joao de Ver football ground, 30km south of Porto at 10:00am. ‘On Sunday, Freamunde had played a match at Taça – Portugal, in the south of the country, but nobody seemed to suspect that this friendly match was programmed for the next day in the north’, read Federet’s report. ‘Ponferradina didn’t know anything about it. More than several thousand euros were bet in this match, which had a final “ghost result” of 1–2. In reality, twenty-two boys of Sao Joao de Vera played the match and the stadium was rented by a few unknown organizers: the stadium staff forgot to register the name and amount of money for the loan of the ground.’
Betting on the game was suspended by Betfair, however it indicated that SC Freamunde did take the field. ‘Unfortunately it has come to Betfair’s attention that this event did not occur on Monday 04/08/2014’, read a Betfair statement. ‘SD Ponferradina have confirmed they did not play a team in this fixture on Monday and due to this fact Betfair will have to void all markets on this event as per our rules and regulations. We can confirm a match did take part at the correct venue with SC Freamunde involved, but the Running Ball scout was not informed that the away team were not SD Ponferradina and thus continued to report on the fixture.’ Running Ball is a real-time sports data provider, whose scouts often act for betting companies in order to provide accurate results and statistics for betting purposes.
The Federbet report also suggested that a number of other matches in the Portuguese second division and in its Liga Nos top division had been fixed as well. ‘Many of the bets came from the area of Naples and the Calabria region, a city where the “Ndrangheta mafia organisation”, which has been accused of being protagonists in the “Dirty Soccer” Italian match-fixing investigation, has a solid presence’, continued the report.
SS Lazio also dismissed suggestions made by Federbet General Secretary, Francesco Baranca, that the Italian Serie A club could be excluded from European competition for match-fixing, if Italian investigations uncover any new evidence of match-fixing in connection to the club. ‘The views of Mr. Baranca are purely subjective impressions, without any evidentiary support’, read a Lazio statement.
“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. 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.
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