Millions spent gambling on GFA games prompts match-fixing debate
Millions of euros gambled on Gibraltar football matches in just one year have prompted the Gibraltar FA to educate the football community on the dangers of match fixing.
The first of nine workshops that focused on the dangers of match fixing was held at the John Mackintosh Hall for members of local football clubs.
Betting industry experts suggest that the figure will multiply by 30 times in the near future as Gibraltar progresses in its UEFA development and is given more television coverage.
Louis Wink, Gibraltar FA Security and Integrity Officer, spoke to the Chronicle at the GFA’s first workshop on ‘Guarding Gibraltar’s Game’, focussing on match fixing.
“Gibraltar is at grave risk of match fixing,” he said. “In one year we have seen over €4 million bet on the Gibraltar First Division and Cup matches. It could be a breeding ground for criminals.”
Mr Wink said that Gibraltar was only offered in the European betting market, which is the most regulated market in the world, but 70% of betting takes place in the Asian market.
“I am happy to say that we are still clean,” he said. “But we can see that the risk will increase as we progress in our UEFA membership.”
Mr Wink said that local players are in danger of criminals handing them the ‘attractive proposition’ of making some extra money by throwing a game.
“But the greater danger is with some of the foreign players in our local league who are not employed in their country of origin,” he said. “This means that they may be making a living of sorts from our local football and could, in turn, be more susceptible to illegal approaches.”
The Gibraltar FA signed a two year rolling contract with Sportradar, an anti-match fixing security company used by UEFA, to educate the local football community on match fixing.
Mr Wink said that the ‘Integrity Programme’ is completely funded by UEFA as it falls under its ‘Good Governance’ policy to help European football nations develop.
“Sportradar has a very effective detection system and which has been used by UEFA since 2009,” he said. “The company will monitor all local matches that are offered in the betting industry.”
Paul Lyon, Vice President of the Gibraltar FA, said that this educational programme was ‘for the good of Gibraltar’s game’ and will help the nation progress.
“This is what the GFA is all about and I think that the association will benefit from this deal,” he said. “Mr Wink needs to be congratulated for setting it up.”
Danny Sears, Head of Education at Sportradar, will roll out the ‘Integrity Programme’ for the Gibraltar FA which will involve nine different workshops.
“There are some frightening things going on in the world of match fixing,” he said. “We are experts in sport and the betting industry and we are a world leader in our advanced security service.”
Mr Sears said that the company studies five billion different odds movements every day and are partners with 460 of the largest bookmakers in the world.
“Match fixing is like a disease and we want to eradicate it,” he said.
CRIMINALS TARGET YOUTH
Mr Sears described a case in Germany a few years ago where a 14-year-old youth player was approached by a man after every match and given some money.
“The man said to the boy that he had won some money in the bookies because of him,” he said. “He then offered the young boy €100 for ‘playing well’.
Mr Sears said that at this point the boy felt that the man was friendly, so he took the money and this continued for several weeks.
“The criminal now realised that the youth player was impressionable and open to taking money,” he said. “He was about to trap him.”
Mr Sears said that eventually the man said to the player that he would need to give away a penalty in the second half of the next match.
“The player initially said no but the man said ‘you do not understand the situation my friend’,” he said. “I am not the sort of guy you want to say no to. I am not asking you, I am telling you and you owe me over €1000.”
Mr Sears said that this situation was eventually resolved and the man was arrested when the young player reported the incident.
“This kind of thing could very easily happen on the Rock,” he said.