Arrests in Australian football match fixing probe

Detectives have uncovered a match-fixing syndicate operating in the top division of the Victoria state football competition in Australia, and up to 10 persons, some of them players, have been arrested.

sports Updated: Sep 15, 2013 11:57 IST

Australian football was rocked on Sunday by news that nine players and a coach from one team had been arrested after police uncovered a match-fixing syndicate operating in the top division of the Victoria state competition.

Football Federation Australia said in a statement that the 10 belong to the Victorian Premier League club Southern Stars and that they face charges under Victoria's Crimes Act, which was amended by the state government earlier this year to include specific offenses related to match-fixing.

Police said many of the players arrested were from Britain and playing in Australia in their off-season. They said they would be looking to prosecute members of an overseas syndicate, believed to have been operating throughout Europe.

There was no immediate word as to when the players and coach would face court.

Police said the operation had been underway since August, working off information provided by Football Federation Australia. Those arrested are expected to face match-fixing charges, which can attract a 10-year maximum penalty in Australia.

Victorian police deputy commissioner Graham Ashton said Australia was a prime location for match-fixing on Asian betting markets.

"Further match-fixing risks are imminent in Australia, partly because of localized overseas betting on Australian sporting events due to our favorable time zone," Ashton said.

"It is vital that we continue gathering intelligence to take preventative action to make it difficult for organized crime to infiltrate our sporting codes."

In February, the crime commission released the findings of the year-long "Project Aperio," saying there was evidence of match-fixing in Australian sport, as well as widespread use of prohibited substances and the infiltration of organized criminal groups in the distribution of performance and image-enhancing drugs.

FFA chief David Gallop said FFA provided police with information relating to suspicious betting activity.

"We provided information to Victoria Police within 24 hours of receiving an alert from our international betting integrity monitoring agents Sportradar, who then worked closely with the investigation team," Gallop said.

"The arrests today show that the integrity measures put in place by FFA are working to detect illegal betting activity. We're determined to keep football clean."

In addition to the criminal proceedings in Victoria state, FFA said it will charge the people arrested today under FFA's National Code of Conduct. They will face a range of sanctions including life bans from football which would apply worldwide.

First Published: Sep 15, 2013 09:36 IST