New Ruling in Match Fixing Case

Date 6 feb. 2013
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Introduction

4 February 2013, the Danish Football Association’s Disciplinary Committee gave its ruling in yet another match fixing case and sentenced the football player, Kristoffer Wichmann, FC Vestsjælland, to a six months’ ban from Danish Cup matches for, in violation of the rules, having bet on a football match in the Danish Cup in August 2011, in which Kristoffer Wichmann himself took part.


The case against Kristoffer Wichmann was actually investigated and conducted as organised match fixing (level 2), but was eventually settled as a level 1 case due to a lack of evidence for level 2 match fixing.

 

The case in brief

31 August 2011, the Danish Football Association was contacted by Danske Spil, which had observed an unusual betting pattern on the match between Vanløse IF and Hvidovre IF in the Danish Cup which had been played the same day with the score 1-5.

 

The suspicion of unusual betting patterns was based on bets made on a total of 96 betting coupons at DKK 500, i.e. a total stake of DKK 48,000 (out of a total amount of approximately DKK 90,000 bet on the match), which had all been made at 11 neighbouring vendors in the Greater Copenhagen Area within a very short period of time. At all vendors, the aggregate bets made totalled less than DKK 5,000, with the result that Danske Spil was not notified of potential irregularities. The fact that the odds on a Hvidovre win was lowered three times in the process without any change in the number of bets made on a Hvidovre win strengthened the suspicion of irregularities.

 

A number of the 96 coupons combined the abovementioned match with bets on other matches, among others another cup match between Ballerup-Skovlunde Fodbold (BSF) and FC Vestsjælland.

 

Against that background, Danske Spil chose to suspend the payment of winnings on the coupons (all 96 coupons were winners), entailing that the player(s) in question had to contact Danske Spil directly in order to receiver winnings. The object of this measure was to determine the identity of the player(s). Quite a while after the match, in spring 2012, attempts were made to cash in the coupons with Danske Spil. Three persons, of whom two were women, attempted to cash a total of 18 coupons. The women stated that they both were friends of Kristoffer Wichmann, part-time professional at the Danish 1st Division club FC Vestsjælland, who took part in the match against BSF. They furthermore stated that Kristoffer Wichmann had placed the bets and owned the coupons which the women had attempted to cash. He had offered each of them DKK 500 for cashing the coupons.


During the course of the investigation, it was uncovered that Kristoffer Wichmann had also placed a significant amount of bets on the Vanløse-Hvidovre game. As Kristoffer Wichmann did not take part in that match, the case was investigated as case of organised match fixing, i.e. a level 2 case. The suspicion of organised match fixing was strengthened by the fact that Vanløse’s manager at that time, Michael Madsen, stated to Danske Spil that Vanløse would field a powerful team, even though the line-up was described as a B-team in the match report. 

 

During the review of the case, the Danish Football Association contacted UEFA who confirmed that the unusual betting patterns only took place in Denmark, for which reason level 3 match fixing (organised crime) could be ruled out. Therefore, the investigation only concerned level 1 and 2 match fixing.

 

The underlying rules

Among other things, it appears from the Danish Football Association’s Code of Ethics that players, managers, executives and referees are prohibited from betting on matches in which they themselves take part or to which they in another way are a formal party, even if the bet is made one’s own team winning. There is a corresponding provision in the standard player’s contract of the Danish Football Association, just as it now ensues from the Association’s Circular on match fixing.

 

Under Section 30.1(a) of the laws of the Danish Football Association, a violation of the prohibition on match fixing may be punished by exclusion from participation in matches (a ban).

 

The decision of the Disciplinary Committee

With regards to the BSF-FC Vestsjælland match (level 1), the Disciplinary Committee found that it was a case of an unusual betting combination carried out within a short period of time at vendors situated close to each other, and that it was unusual that the two women and the anonymous man, independently of each other, had waited so long to cash the large winnings from the same weekend.

 

The Disciplinary Committee furthermore found that the circumstances surrounding the payment of the bets indicated that the person placing the bets knew Danske Spil’s security procedures and did not want the betting provider to become aware of the proceedings.

 

As it was also possible to prove a connection between Kristoffer Wichmann and the two women, the Disciplinary Committee found, in their overall assessment, that it was sufficiently proven that the bets were placed by the same person, Kristoffer Wichmann, who by doing so and by taking part in the BSF-FC Vestsjælland match had violated the Danish Football Association’s rules on match fixing.

 

Consequently, and because he did not provide the necessary information to the Disciplinary Committee, Kristoffer Wichmann was sentenced to a six month ban from Danish Cup matches.

 

With regards to the Vanløse-Hvidovre match (level 2), the Disciplinary Committee did not find sufficient grounds for assuming that Kristoffer Wichmann and Michael Madsen had collaborated or that they had a common understanding with regards to betting on the match in question.

 

Against that background, the Disciplinary Committee did not found grounds for further action in relation to the suspected level 2 case.

 

The consequences of the decision

There seems to be no doubt that the Danish Football Association considers violations of the prohibition on match fixing as a serious disregard, not only of the association’s own rules, but of football’s integrity itself. For this reason, violations of the prohibition are taken seriously and are punished severely.

 

The Disciplinary Committee concluded that the case in question only constituted level 1 match fixing. Consequently, there has as yet been no example of organised match fixing in Denmark. Still, the latest decision of the Disciplinary Committee is significant as it constitutes the hitherto harshest punishment received by a Danish player for level 1 match fixing. Previous decisions from the Danish Football Association have at the most resulted in ban for a six playing days. Thereby, the decision clearly illustrates the (even) tougher line which it is expected that the Danish Football Association will take in similar cases henceforth. 

 

However, with regards to the investigation of level 2 match fixing, the decision also illustrates the challenge currently faced by the Danish Football Association, namely that it with the current legislation is not possible for the Association to carry out an investigation which may, to an adequate extent, bear the burden of proof for collaboration on match fixing. The Association has argued for an amendment which to a larger extent will make it possible to investigate such cases, but such an amendment will in all likelihood not be passed in the near future.

 

 

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.