First rulings on match fixing from the Danish Football Associations disciplinary committee

Date 30 dec. 2011
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The Danish Football Association’s Disciplinary Committee (the “Disciplinary Committee”) has, in a ruling delivered 14 December 2011, issued a warning to each of the two football players, Samir Haiba and Jesper Sneholm for having placed a bet on their respective teams, B 1908 and Vanløse IF, losing two football matches in the Danish 2nd Division East in 2010. Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen assisted the latter in the Danish Football Association’s review of the case.


In connection with the rulings, the Disciplinary Committee as well as the Danish Football Association (“DFA”) has underlined that both cases are leading cases. The cases are the first of their kinds in Denmark, but because of the fact that match fixing problems are already known from international sports and because of the new gambling legislation’s pending entry into force, the rulings are expected to have significant precedent importance.


The cases in brief

On 6 June, 2010, Samir Haiba participated in the match between B 1908 and Vanløse IF in the Danish 2nd Division East. Prior to the match, he had placed a bet of DKK 5,000 with Scandic Bookmakers that his team, B 1908, would lose the match. Vanløse IF won the match 3 – 1.


On 12 September, 2010, Jesper Sneholm did the same in the match between Elite 3000 and Vanløse IF in the same division. Here, his team, Vanløse IF, lost the match 1 – 3. Jesper Sneholm had placed bets with Scandic Bookmakers and Danbook for a total of DKK 4,285.


Subsequently, both players were reported to the DFA by the online betting providers. In the light of these facts, the DFA notified the police of both incidents on 1 November 2010. Both charges were charges of fraud or attempts of fraud, cf. Section 279 of the Danish Penal Code. However, the prosecution division of the Copenhagen Police Department stopped the investigation due to a lack of evidence that a punishable act had taken place. Regardless hereof, the DFA subsequently chose to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Samir Haiba and Jesper Sneholm under the Associations own rules, including the rules on match fixing.


Underlying rules

 Pursuant to the Ethical Codex of the DFA, it is forbidden for active football players to bet on games in which the player in question takes active part or in another way is a formal party to, regardless of whether the bet is placed on a positive result for the player’s own team. The prohibition is mainly motivated by the wish to avoid suspicion being thrown on the player himself, his teammates, his club and, not least, the sport of football in general.


In particular the latter circumstance makes bookmaking illegal, cf. Section 44, no. 1, subparagraph d) in Laws for the Danish Football Association (“DFA’s laws”), according to which any discrediting conduct for the game of football will be sanctioned against. Specifically, this may result in warnings or fines being issued, cf. Section 44, no. 1, subparagraph a).


Rulings of the Disciplinary Committee

Prior to the Disciplinary Committee’s review, both players had admitted to having bet on the respective games. Therefore, the Disciplinary Committee in actuality only determined the punishment.


In spite of factual differences in the cases, including that very unusual betting patters were registered in Samir Haiba’s case and that Samir Haiba at the time where the bet was placed knew he would play in the match, the Disciplinary Committee assessed that in both cases, match fixing on level 1, the mildest level of match fixing, had taken place.


Furthermore, the Disciplinary Committee recognised that mitigating circumstances were present seeing as the character of the underlying rules at the time where the bets were placed appeared different from when the rulings were made, just as a not inconsiderable amount of time had passed from when the actual circumstances occurred until the rulings of the committee were made.     


Based on the above, both players were issued a warning.


Consequences of the rulings

 Subsequently, the rulings of the Disciplinary Committee have received a large amount of criticism which has especially been concentrated on the leniency of the punishment and the apparently negative signal value it displays. Due to the leniency, it is argued, the attitude towards match fixing in Danish football is not reflected adequately.


However, it is significant to note that the Disciplinary Committee with the rulings has provided standard levels as to how match fixing cases supposedly will be handled in the future. While level 1, which the two mentioned rulings where found to be cases of, covers individual players’ betting on their own matches, the Disciplinary Committee and the DFA contemplate that level 2 will cover betting in collusion with others, while level 3 will cover more organised cases of match fixing, typically known from abroad.


In particular, it is the fear of future cases of level 3 match fixing in Denmark which has brought the DFA – in view of the two cases – to adjust and tighten the rules so that they now, in addition to appearing from the Ethical Codex, are also included in a circular letter on match fixing as well as the Laws of the DFA. Furthermore, it is a clause in the DFA’s Standard Player Contract, that is to say it is included in the actual employment relationship between a player and his club. Especially for this reason, the two rulings are of significant relevance.



If you have any questions or require additional information on the rulings or sports law in general, please contact partner Thomas Weitemeyer (twe@mwblaw.dk or junior associate Mathias Wilhelm Warnøe Nielsen (mvn@mwblaw.dk).


The above does not constitute legal counselling and Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen does not warrant the accuracy of the information. With the above text, Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen has not assumed responsibility of any kind as a consequence of a reader’s use of the above as a basis of decisions or considerations.