Expatica news

Gambling firm to identify soccer fraud suspects

10 February 2006

BRUSSELS — British gambling office Betfair has agreed to supply the Belgian football association with information over the current match-fixing scandal.

Betfair — which organises gambling on soccer matches — claims it can identify everyone who gambles in a suspicious way and is prepared to pass that information to Belgian judicial and football authorities.

It also said it has evidence that matches involving Sint-Truiden have been rigged, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported on Friday.

“A small group of Belgians risked at any odds great sums of money to win just small amounts,” a Betfair spokesman said.

The gambling firm has a list of suspicious gamblers and said it’s possible that some footballers are also on the list.

Betfair raised concerns about two Sint-Truiden matches, one played against La Louvière and the other against Cercle Brugge at the end of October and the start of November.

At the time, Sint-Truiden chairman Roland Duchatelet lodged a complaint after the matches.

Betfair has said it is prepared in future to systematically pass on the names of people who gamble on KBVB football association matches and the amounts of money gambled.

The football association is prepared to pass those names onto the judiciary, which would otherwise have to operate via an investigative commission that would slow proceedings down.

The Belgian football association is currently locked in high-profile gambling scandal amid claims the Chinese gambling mafia is rigging matches.

Sint-Truiden and the Lierse club were first linked in November to the suspicious activities of Chinese businessman Zheyun Ye, who bought a EUR 300,000 stake in Lierse last year.

Bets on some of Sint-Truiden’s matches were excessively high and the results were at times very surprising, it was reported in November.

However, Wallonian club La Louvière was singled out in a documentary on Sunday night and Belgian media identified an ‘anonymous’ witness earlier this week as speculation mounted over the scale of the scandal.

But the chief of communications for UEFA, William Gaillard, said on Friday the Belgian gambling scandal is not unique.

“The frequency of gambling fraud is increasing in many European competitions. It is a form of organised crime that is very difficult to combat,” he said.

UEFA said further that gambling represents a serious threat to the sport, stressing that its systematic and international character is particularly concerning.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news