Football player punished harshly for match fixing

Date 8 feb. 2012
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With its decision made 27 January 2012, the Disciplinary Committee of the Danish Football Association has banned the football player Kim Aabech for eight matches for having bet money that his team, Lyngby Boldklub, would lose a football match against F.C. København in the Danish Superliga in the autumn of 2011. Viewed in the light of the previous practice in the area where the sanction has typically been a warning, the decision is harsh.


The case in brief

As a substitute for Lyngby Boldklub (in the following, “Lyngby”), the professional football player Kim Aabech (in the following, the ”Football Player”) took part in the game between F.C. København and Lyngby in the Danish Superliga on 6 November 2011. Immediately before the game, the Football Player had placed a bet with Danske Spil A/S distributed on a total of 13 coupons of DKK 500 each (in total, DKK 6,500). Among the concluded bets was a bet that Lyngby would lose the game against F.C. København. The game resulted in a 3-0 victory for F.C. København.


After the game, Lyngby became aware that the Football Player had bet on a match in which he participated, and notified the Danish Football Association (in the following, the “DFA”). During the DFA’s investigation of the case, the Football Player maintained that only one of the 13 betting coupons included the game between F.C. København and Lyngby, and that the bet in question had been made on behalf of the Player’s brother. However, the betting provider Danske Spil A/S verified to the DFA that a total of three of the coupons included a bet on Lyngby losing against F.C. København.


Subsequently, the Football Player received an internal sanction consisting of a one match ban. Simultaneously, the DFA chose to commence disciplinary proceedings against the Football Player for a breach of the DFA’s own rules, including those on match fixing. 


The underlying rules

Pursuant to the DFA’s Code of Ethics, active football players are prohibited from betting on matches in which they participate actively or in another way are a formal party to, regardless of whether the bet is placed on the player’s own team winning. Furthermore, the prohibition ensues from the DFA’s Circular no. 71 and is specifically motivated by the wish to avoid the denigration of the player himself, his teammates, his club, and, not least, the sport of football in general.


Furthermore, it ensues from the Laws of the Danish Football Association that any behaviour discrediting the game of football may be sanctioned against. 


Match fixing in football has been defined by the DFA as incidences in which the result of a football match or the events in a game of football, for example the number of corner kicks or yellow cards, has been agreed in advance or is motivated by things other than sporting interests.


Depending on the severity of the breach, the different cases of match fixing are divided into different levels: Level 1 which covers single persons (typically the athletes themselves) betting on a certain result of a match; level 2 where several persons in combination bet on a certain result; and level 3 which involves larger, criminal syndicates who, for example by means of violence, threats or bribes, affect or attempt to affect players, managers etc. in order to ensure a certain outcome of a match. Up till now, only cases of level 1 match fixing have occurred in Denmark. 


A breach of the prohibition on match fixing may be sanctioned against by means of warnings, fines and/or bans in accordance with the rules mentioned.


The Disciplinary Committee’s decision

The Disciplinary Committee assessed the case to constitute level 1 match fixing.


With regards to the facts of the case, the Disciplinary Committee did not find it to be documented that the Football Player had placed the bet on behalf of his brother as the Football Player had explained. Furthermore, the Disciplinary Committee also did not find grounds to disregard the information provided by Danske Spil that the Football Player had placed bets on three coupons with bets on his own match, and not only one coupon as claimed by the Football Player.

Consequently, the Committee was forced to conclude that the Football Player had submitted incorrect and/or incomplete information to the DFA and considered this an aggravating factor. Furthermore, the Committee noted that the Football Player had previously been present at a lecture on match fixing given by the DFA and for this reason was aware of the fact that betting on one’s own matches is illegal.


Against this background, the DFA gave the Football Player a total ban of eight matches made up of a six day ban for match fixing and a two day ban for submitting incorrect information.


The consequences of the decision

The Disciplinary Committee’s decision is surprisingly harsh viewed in light of the Disciplinary Committee’s decisions of 14 December 2011 where two Danish second division players were issued a warning for nearly identical transgressions.


The reason for the much harsher sanction is to be found in the changed rules which have been adopted after the transgressions of the two second division players took place. In addition to the entry into the Code of Ethics of the DFA, a provision on match fixing has also been added to the DFA’s Standard Player Contract in the intermediary period. With that, the clubs now also have the opportunity of letting match fixing have employment law consequences for the persons implicated. However, no examples regarding to which extent this opportunity has been used have been made public as of yet.


The decision of 27 January 2012 clearly illustrates that match fixing, which puts into doubt the very basic premise that everybody plays to win, is sanctioned against very harshly.


As match fixing does not only have consequences for the player breaching the prohibition, but also for the player’s club, we strongly recommend that both players and clubs take clear exception to any type of match fixing. On the part of the club, this could take place through on-going and persistent orientation on the problem as well as a consistent line against any transgressions. Viewed in light of the generally increased focus on match fixing, the decision of the DFA leaves us with no doubt that future transgressions will also receive serious sanctions with consequences both for the player and his club.



If you have any questions or require additional information on the decision or on any other sports law issues, please contact attorney Pernille Nørkær (pno@mwblaw.dk or junior associate Mattias Vilhelm 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.