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UK footballers among ten arrested in Australian match-fixing crackdown

17th September 2013 6:27 am GMT

The Australian Wagering Council (AWC) has called on all states to introduce consistent national criminal offences for corruption in sport after ten people were arrested in connection with a multi-million dollar match-fixing scandal described by police as the biggest to hit Australia.

Ten people were arrested Sunday, including footballers registered with Victorian State League Division 1 side Southern Stars as well as the team’s coach.

The ten, several of whom are from the UK, were arrested after the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) received data from its monitoring service Sportsradar which showed suspicious betting patterns, prompting police units the Purana Task Force and the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit to arrest the men on Sunday.

Six men have been formally charged by the authorities; 45 year-old Gerry Gsubramaniam; 23 year-old English footballers Reiss Noel and Joe Wooley; a 36 year-old man, understood to be Southern Stars coach Zaya Younan; a 27 year-old and another 23 year-old English player. They now face life bans from football, and prison sentences of up to 10 years.

Four unnamed men, including two aged 26 and one 28, all from England, and a 23 year-old Australian, were released without charge.

In a press conference held Sunday, FFA head David Gallop said his organisation would initiate proceedings under its codes of conduct after discovering that over AU$2m (€1.4m) in winnings were linked to the match-fixers, from syndicates based overseas.

“You can be sure that we will throw the book at them,” Gallop said. “That means life bans on a worldwide basis.”

"[It is] probably fair to say that this highlights the fact that lower league games, which aren't under the scrutiny of things like a global television broadcast, are potentially more susceptible to this kind of activity,” he continued, adding that police had described the scandal as “an isolated issue in Victoria”.

Nick Monteleone, president of Football Federation Victoria (FFV), said he was “shocked” by what he called “an unprecedented scenario for the Victorian football community.”

“We commend Victoria Police for their actions and obviously will fully support their ongoing investigations,” he added.

The arrests have prompted the AWC to call for each Australian state to push for set criminal penalties for match-fixing, with chief executive Chris Downy saying the betting industry is “fundamentally reliant on protecting the integrity of Australian racing and sport”.

“Introducing consistent criminal offences with harsher penalties for those fraudulently manipulating sporting events is a positive step toward ensuring the protection of our sporting heritage and our wagering industry,” Downy explained.

He said that while a number of states had put legislation in place, it was “important that all remaining states do so,” adding the AWC could aid measures to maintain sporting integrity through its account-based operations, which he said would allow monitors to easily identify bettors and track their betting patterns.

Last month, Australia’s Northern Territory became the first state to pass legislation to impose serious penalties on those found guilty of match-fixing in the state in a bid to combat cheating and fraud in sports betting.

“AWC members have a zero tolerance to corruption in racing and sport and have a longstanding commitment to working closely with Government and major Australian sporting bodies to ensure integrity obligations are fulfilled,” Downy said.

He suggested a number of measures, including conducting regulator audits of customer databases to check whether those banned from placing bets, such as players or officials, have been using sportsbooks; paying product fees to sporting organisations, and setting up industry standards for the exchange of information with sports, governments and law enforcement about suspicious betting patterns.

Downy also called for discussions between sports managing bodies and bookmakers to avoid confusion by setting out the types of bets that AWC members can offer, and involve Australian racing bodies in these talks.

The AWC counts a number of leading sportsbook operators among its members, including Betfair, Bet365, Unibet’s Betchoice, Paddy Power subsidiary Sportsbet, and the Sportingbet Australia Group, owned by William Hill (which comprises Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse).

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