Gambling-related corruption scandals rocked Dutch football and international Tennis.
In Holland, the Integrity Unit of the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) said it had evidence of the first case of match-fixing in the country. Its investigation alleges that Ibrahim Kargbo, who played for the country’s top-flight Eredivisie team Willem II Tilburg between 2006 and 2010, agreed to work with convicted Singaporean matchfixer Wilson Raj Perumal in order to lose against FC Utrecht on 9 August 2009. Kargbo’s emails, KNVB says, suggest he and two other Willem II players it could not clearly identify would each receive €25,000 if their team lost by more than one goal. In the end the fix actually failed because Utrecht only won the match 1-0.
Ex-Sierra Leone captain Kargbo was previously one of 15 players and officials suspended for fixing a 2008 World Cup qualifier match against South Africa. He currently plays for Atletico in Portugal. “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 hope that this will benefit. Namely, that it contributes to the urgency in the Netherlands to combat this scourge in the sport.” The KNVB says it will send its report to UEFA and FIFA.
Meanwhile, an investigation by Britain’s Guardian newspaper revealed the International Tennis Federation had secretly banned two umpires and was taking action against four more for working with “courtsiders” on the ITF’s Futures Tour, the lowest level of professional tennis. “Courtsiding” refers to the practice of using a man at the court side to transmit score information to gamblers seconds before bookmakers and internet betting sites receive it, enabling the gamblers to place bets just before the bookmakers update their odds.
In 2012 the ITF had signed a US$14 million per-year deal with data company Sportradar to distribute scores from small tournaments around the world. The matches under investigation were played in ITF Futures tournaments in eastern Europe with little or no television coverage, low security and poorly paid umpires susceptible to taking bribes. Responsible for sending information to Sportradar, the umpires were supposed to tap scores into official WiFi-connected tablet computers immediately after each point, but were in fact deliberately delaying by as much as 60 seconds. This gave time for crooked gamblers, acting on their own information, to quickly place bets knowing what would happen next.
Experts say tennis is ideally suited to gambling-related corruption. According to The Guardian the European Sports Security Association, a bookmaker’s trade association, raised 49 suspicious gambling alerts about the sport in the first nine months of 2015 compared to 16 alerts for other sports over the same period. The newspaper criticized the ITF for failing to reveal that corruption in the sport was spreading from allegations of match-fixing against players, to referees. It said the explosion in the number of events that can be gambled on during play had caused the number of suspicious gambling alerts to rise sharply over the past few years.