So Sports Minister Mark Arbib thinks nationwide 10-year jail terms for anybody involved in match fixing will solve what the Sydney Morning Herald describes as "the biggest threat to sport since doping"? I wish him luck. At the weekend, soccer's governing body FIFA, after pretending to deal with a little bit of corruption within its management ranks, turned to the troubling issue of investigating unusual betting patterns relating to Nigeria's 4-1 win over Argentina in Abuja on Wednesday. The BBC tells how FIFA now is investigating unusual betting patterns relating to Nigeria's 4-1 win over Argentina in Abuja on Wednesday.
When the score was 4-0 in the friendly game, a large number of bets were placed on there being a fifth goal. Only five minutes of injury time were shown, but eight had elapsed when Mauro Boselli scored a contentious penalty given against Joseph Yobo for handball. FIFA said in a statement: "This match was one we had an active interest in."
The report of the match says Ike Uche opened the scoring against an under-strength Argentine side after 10 minutes, with Victor Obinna adding a second from the penalty spot before Uche headed a third before half-time. Eight minutes after the restart Emmanuel Emenike lobbed a fourth goal, and the fifth goal of the match, refereed by Ibrahim Chaibou of Niger, came with the final kick of the game. The BBC report noted that the match took place the same day Fifa president Sepp Blatter was re-elected for a fourth term in office, pledging to improve the image of the game around the world. In Italy, where they have been putting people in the clink for years for rigging football matches, the practice goes on. The lure of the gambling dollar last week saw former Italian striker Giuseppe Signori one of 16 people arrested. Among those targeted by Italian police were ex-Serie A players and current players from both Serie B and Serie C, as well as club directors from the lower leagues. All are suspected of being part of an organisation that rigged games to fix bets, with 18 matches being under investigation including this season's Serie A encounter between Inter Milan and Lecce. The newsagency AFP reports matches involving Siena and Atalanta, who both earned promotion to Serie A, are also under the microscope:
Atalanta's veteran captain Cristiano Doni has been named in the investigation but the club has made no comment on the affair. Doni is alleged to have collaborated with the organisation to ensure at least three goals were scored in his club's match against Piacenza on March 19, it ended 3-0 to Atalanta. The investigation was led by the mobile squad from Cremona but also included help from police forces from a dozen other towns, including Rome, Naples and Turin. Magistrates in Cremona issued seven arrest warrants and nine orders for detention under house arrest, of which Signori's was one of the latter. Amongst those arrested were also employees of betting shops, while the investigation concerns around 30 people in total. Those arrested formed part of a criminal syndicate in which everyone had a specific role with the view to manipulating matches in the organisation's favour. The suspects managed to fix certain results through verbal agreements and payments, according to Cremona judge Guido Salvini.
Meanwhile in South Korea, where incidentally football betting is illegal altogether, that country's K-League club the Pohang Steelers has fired midfielder Kim Jung-kyum for allegedly betting on one of his own games. The Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday the K-League club terminated Kim's contract because he allegedly bet on the outcome of one of the Steeler's matches two months ago. Five players from different clubs have been arrested and charged with taking money from gambling brokers and allegedly making deliberate mistakes that led to their teams losing, according to domestic media. Jeong Jong-kwan, a former K-League player, was found dead this week in an apparent suicide. He left a note claiming his involvement in match-fixing schemes, Yonhap reported. Not that the world game is the only one in the gambling news this week. The former Austrian professional tennis player Daniel Koellerer -- who turned pro in 2002 and achieved his career-high ranking of No. 55 in October, 2009 -- was this week given a life ban from professional tennis and a fine of $100,000. Match rigging in tennis has reached such a level that there is a Tennis Integrity Unit, which this week issued a press release saying:
Mr Koellerer was found guilty of three charges under Article D of the 2010 Uniform Tennis Anti-Corruption Program, namely:
  • Contriving or attempting to contrive the outcome of an Event;
  • Soliciting or facilitating a Player not to use his or her best efforts in an Event; and;
  • Soliciting, offering or providing money, benefit or Consideration to any other covered person with the intention of negatively influencing a Player’s best efforts in any Event
The three violations of the Uniform Tennis Anti-Corruption Program for which he has been disciplined occurred between October 2009 and July 2010. The case against him was based on the findings of a Tennis Integrity Unit investigation and considered by an independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer at a two-day Hearing held in London on 27-28 April. Consistent with the confidentiality of the Anti-Corruption Hearing process, no details of the Hearing or Decision will be made public. The life ban applies with immediate effect, and means that Mr Koellerer is not eligible to participate in any tournament or competition organised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of professional tennis from the date of this statement.
There's enough evidence in those four examples from the last week to suggest, I would have thought, that merely changing the law in Australia will not in itself achieve anything unless there are bodies like the Tennis Integrity Unit to enforce it.