News 30th April 2015

UK Footballers Found Guilty of Match-Fixing

Two footballers were yesterday convicted for their part in a conspiracy to commit bribery in 2013 by fixing football matches. The jury at Birmingham Crown Court found that Delroy Facey – a professional footballer who played for Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and Hull City – and Moses Swaibu – a former professional footballer with Crystal Palace – had attempted to corrupt lower league players to influence the outcome of matches, enabling betting on the fixed outcomes of matches in the Conference Premier Division. They were given prison sentences of two and a half years, and 16 months, respectively.

This is the second trial linked to the same conspiracy. In June 2014, businessmen Chann Sankaran, Krishna Ganeshan, and footballer Michael Boateng (pictured) were sentenced by the Birmingham Crown Court for attempting to fix football games, following a Daily Telegraph undercover investigation. Boateng and Swaibu have both played for Conference South club Whitehawk FC and Football League club Lincoln City, for which Facey has also played. A fourth man, Hakeem Adelakun, was acquitted. Sankaran and Ganeshan were sentenced to five years imprisonment, while Boateng received a 16-month sentence. Boateng was given a lifetime suspension by England’s Football Association, later extended worldwide by FIFA. The jury at the time was unable to reach a verdict on Moses Swaibu, who then faced a retrial.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) began investigating the five men’s activities after evidence uncovered by the Daily Telegraph’s own undercover investigation. The NCA then deployed surveillance teams to watch and listen to the men. The jury heard how recordings made by an officer from the NCA built up a picture of a concerted effort to engage and corrupt footballers to influence the scoreline of matches, and pass information to a wider overseas network to make money by betting on the outcomes.

In a statement issued by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the sentencing, Andy Young, specialist prosecutor in the CPS Organised Crime Division, said that Facey had acted as a “middleman”, sourcing players who would be willing to fix matches. “These and other recordings provided vital evidence which showed the men had a settled intent to make an agreement about engineering the results of matches, in return for money, a reality.”

Judge Mary Stacey said Facey’s offences struck “at the very heart of football”. “You have been a role model, but you have abused that position,” she added. Stacey described Facey and Swaibu’s actions as “like a cancer at the heart of football,” continuing that the men had betrayed the trust of football fans as well as everyone involved in putting on matches.

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