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Thread: FAI charge members of Athlone Town over match fixing

  1. #41
    International Prospect osarusan's Avatar
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    To be fair, the way they found guilty sounds pretty flimsy.

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    Seasoned Pro NeverFeltBetter's Avatar
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    Was just thinking that. You don't want this to be a situation where the FAI just wants any kind of Guilty verdict just so they can say they did something. Of course, a truly independent, in-depth investigation of the issue might have unearthed things the FAI didn't want unearthed.
    Author of Never Felt Better (History, Film Reviews).

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  4. #43
    International Prospect Lim till i die's Avatar
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    In fairness I actually did the minutes for the three man panel meeting so I know exactly what went on:

    Attendance:

    Lim till I die (minute taker)
    Larry (chair of fai three man panel)
    Curly (panel member)
    Moe (panel member)

    Larry: ah Jaysus lads tis an awful situation in Athlone what are we going to do about it?

    Moe: Ah shur fit up two foreign lads.

    Curly: Grand job. Cake??

    All: Yes

    Meeting adjourned.

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  6. #44
    Like the Fonz. Only a dog. Mr A's Avatar
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    Athlone statement:

    "Athlone Town AFC rejects findings of FAI investigation.

    The Board of Management of Athlone Town AFC rejects the outrageous findings made by the FAI against two of the club's players.

    While the club is extremely disappointed, it is not surprised, by the decisions.

    Our position is that today's determinations fly in the face of the evidence presented before the disciplinary committee, and are perverse.

    The club is left with the conclusion that the outcome was predetermined and reflects a face saving exercise for certain people within the game rather any forum where truth or justice could prevail.

    The club would advise people to be slow to reach judgment about the players following such a flawed process.

    The scepticism expressed by the club in the ability of the “independent” disciplinary committee to apply a legal standard of proof has unfortunately come to pass.

    At this stage the club supports the player's appeal against the findings and any avenues taken by the two, who strongly deny the charges, aimed at overturning these decisions.

    We also fully support the PFAI's statement in relation to the findings.

    Before the process commenced the club raised its concerns about the fairness of the investigation, the manner in which the probe was conducted and in particular the so called independence of the decision makers.

    In reality none of our concerns were significantly addressed, and the decisions leave us in no doubt that the entire process was utterly flawed.

    While the club willingly and fully participated in the process it has been our strong belief the FAI's findings had been predetermined, and have little to do what was presented before those hearing the case.

    We had hoped to get a fair hearing with determinations based on the facts.

    Since the investigation began we believe there has been a blatant attempt to find parties associated with Athlone Town AFC guilty of some wrong doing before any sort of due process had commenced.

    The very public manner in which this investigation has been handled has caused significant and long lasting damage to the club, its officials, players and staff.

    Our complaints against the process are many and detailed.

    It is our opinion that the evidence presented against the players was exceptionally flimsy, and based on opinion only.

    The club takes exception to the use of the FAI's description of "clear and overwhelming" evidence of match manipulation being present in the case.

    It was anything but.

    In relation to Dragos Sfrijan who was found to have attempted to manipulate matches amounted to nothing more than a missed kick.

    Yet he has been found him guilty of manipulating the outcome of a game despite the fact he was carrying a significant and serious injury (dislocated shoulder) at the time.

    Another complaint was that no evidence of any betting profits was tendered or offered, and the amount supposedly bet on the game against Longford Town is unknown to the investigators.

    Those in the media who quote six figure sums being involved either know something UEFA and FAI say is unknown to them or have been given misleading information in a further attempt to blacken the club's name.

    No evidence of a conspiracy exists.

    There was no evidence of profits been made by players or anybody related to the players notwithstanding the fact that complete disclosure have been made no such evidence existed.

    It is extraordinary that the players were convicted on no more than opinion evidence that could never come close to standing up in a Court of law or any truly independent investigatory forum.

    Indeed no real effort was made by the FAI to involve the Gardaí in a criminal investigation.

    If they stand fully behind the verdicts and have confidence in them then we call for the immediate intervention of the Gardaí and or Europol and Interpol.

    It also appears extraordinary to use that while the FAI say it has a zero tolerance policy to match fixing that the penalty deemed to be appropriate for match fixing and manipulating the outcome of games is one of 12 months ban.

    To us it seems like saying that somebody is only a little bit pregnant.

    The sanctions are nonsensical, and reinforce our position that in truth no evidence exists that the players were involved in match fixing.

    We believe that this decision has now set a very dangerous precedent not only for football but for all sports.

    We will issue further statements on our next step following discussions with the relevant parties."
    #NeverStopNotGivingUp

  7. #45
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    Why have Labuts and Sfrijan got a 12 month ban for successful match-fixing while Colm James got an 18 month ban for attempted match-fixing?
    The Leinster Senior League needs a strong Bohemians

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    Capped Player nigel-harps1954's Avatar
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    Plot Twist:

    Match fixing investigation fixed.

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  10. #47
    International Prospect osarusan's Avatar
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    Fixing of match fixing investigation investigated.

  11. #48
    Capped Player DannyInvincible's Avatar
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    Just looking at this bit from the Athlone statement:

    "It also appears extraordinary to use [sic] that while the FAI say it has a zero tolerance policy to match fixing that the penalty deemed to be appropriate for match fixing and manipulating the outcome of games is one of 12 months ban.

    To us it seems like saying that somebody is only a little bit pregnant."

    What do the club mean by that in this context? Are the club suggesting that if the FAI were serious about enforcing their purported zero-tolerance policy and were truly convinced of the players' guilt then the FAI would have dished out longer bans? You couldn't really say a 12-month ban was lenient, surely.

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    That's all a bit dodgy to say the least. If the FAI really had wanted to investigate in depth and back their verdict with solid evidence, they would probably have needed to involve experts on organized crime. When the whole story emerged, it was said that information had also been forwarded to the Gardai, but there was no follow-up on that, at least not publicly. Why was that, did the Guards think there isn't enough of a case in there, or did the FAI say "we'd appreciate if we could deal with it on our own"?

    Now they're left with a case where they singled out two scapegoats to take all the blame, while the evidence against them seems to be very questionable. If the players and the PFAI take this to court (CAS or whatever other court is applicable), the FAI will have a lot of questions to answer, I think.

  13. #50
    Seasoned Pro NeverFeltBetter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannyInvincible View Post
    Just looking at this bit from the Athlone statement:
    "It also appears extraordinary to use [sic] that while the FAI say it has a zero tolerance policy to match fixing that the penalty deemed to be appropriate for match fixing and manipulating the outcome of games is one of 12 months ban.

    To us it seems like saying that somebody is only a little bit pregnant."

    What do the club mean by that in this context? Are the club suggesting that if the FAI were serious about enforcing their purported zero-tolerance policy and were truly convinced of the players' guilt then the FAI would have dished out longer bans? You couldn't really say a 12-month ban was lenient, surely.
    That's exactly what I think they're saying: that if the FAI was really serious about this there would be lifetime bans.
    Author of Never Felt Better (History, Film Reviews).

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    Capped Player DannyInvincible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr A View Post
    PFAI response. http://pfai.ie/news/pfa-ireland-stat...-investigation

    Well known TV pundits were engaged to back the players' case. Bit bizarre. And the use of a low conviction rate as if it were indicative of innocence and the general bombast towards the end is quite entertaining.
    Any idea who the pundits were? A "leading" coach was also engaged to offer his verdict on the supposed evidence and allegations, say the PFAI. At least we've greater knowledge as to the qualifications of the so-called experts engaged by the players though. Have the FAI been as transparent in revealing the respective qualifications of their panel of so-called experts? We know a sports consultant from Austria was introduced (seemingly because the PFAI put that info in the public domain), but what about the other three? Who were they?

    This all sounds pretty shabby:

    "Instead, the FAI arbitrarily convened a three man panel to study the footage in conjunction with evidence of irregular betting patterns. No rule exists for such a panel but it was nonetheless asked to determine if these players performed in an adequate or illogical manner. Of these three, only two reached an opinion that they had while a third, though expressing reservations, said he felt there was not enough evidence. At the hearing, one of these experts did not appear and his opinion was withdrawn while another, who had expressed reservations, changed his view. A further expert was introduced, a sports consultant from Austria, who had never seen a League of Ireland match before and he refused to say whether he felt the actions of the player in question was deliberate or not."

  15. #52
    Capped Player DannyInvincible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeverFeltBetter View Post
    That's exactly what I think they're saying: that if the FAI was really serious about this there would be lifetime bans.
    Are life-time bans for being found guilty of match-fixing common? Are there (m)any precedents in other jurisdictions to use as a benchmark or indicator as to what might generally be deemed appropriate? Personally, I'd say a 12-month ban from the game - which is also one's livelihood - is pretty serious.

    Just looking at this page on Wikipedia for some possible further info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Match-...glish_football

    The examples in the article are from English football, but it seems life-time bans may have been more likely in the old days. There are cases mentioned from 1915 and 1964 where multiple players were banned from football for life.

    More recently, however, it seems punishment for the same offence hasn't been as stringent. There was the following case in 2008, for example:

    "Unusual betting patterns were reported for a match between Accrington Stanley and Bury on the final day of the 2007–08 season. A Football Association investigation resulted in five players, four of whom played for Accrington Stanley and the other for Bury, being charged with betting on a Bury win. Jay Harris was banned from playing for a year, David Mannix for ten months, Robert Williams and Peter Cavanagh for eight months, and Andrew Mangan for five months. Each player was also fined between £2,000–5,000."

    All players who were found guilty there, bar one, received bans of less than 12 months from the FA.

    Edit: On the other hand, I'm just seeing a case here from 2014, where FIFA punished two English players found guilty of match-fixing in Australia with life-time bans: http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/26617976

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    Reserves mcgonigle's Avatar
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    On a separate note is it just me or has Roddy been very quiet since rejoining Athlone? I understand him not commenting on the investigation (well somewhat) but usually he has something to say about everything.

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    Banned. Children Banned. Grandchildren Banned. 3 Months. Charlie Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcgonigle View Post
    On a separate note is it just me or has Roddy been very quiet since rejoining Athlone? I understand him not commenting on the investigation (well somewhat) but usually he has something to say about everything.
    His commentary is confined to his Star column now. Roddy only comments when there's financial gain in it for him. He had a few things to say about the investigation after he took over, typical stuff like if any of his players did that he'd do far worse than the FAI ever would but they're all good lads, etc.

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    Account of actions in the case and opinion by Richie Sadlier.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/soc...14520?mode=amp

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  20. #56
    International Prospect Ezeikial's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToberonaTornado View Post
    Account of actions in the case and opinion by Richie Sadlier.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/soc...14520?mode=amp
    Cant access it - what does he say?

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    Capped Player nigel-harps1954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezeikial View Post
    Cant access it - what does he say?

    Here's the article for anyone who cannot see it. I think it's an excellent read from Sadlier and he raises a lot of very valid questions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Richie Sadlier
    I once missed an open goal in a Championship game.

    The ball bounced at my feet with nobody in front of me and embarrassingly I sliced it wide. I did it on international duty too, while playing for the Republic of Ireland under-19’s against Denmark at Dalymount Park. On neither occasion was I accused of trying to deliberately manipulate the result for financial gain. I guess I was lucky there was no suspicious betting patterns associated with either game.

    Dragos Sfrijan and Igors Labuts were not so fortunate. They have both been banned by the FAI for one year from all football-related activity for offences relating to match-fixing.



    I was involved in the hearing of their case earlier this week, which I’ll return to in a moment, but first, consider what evidence you’d assume was uncovered. Given the severity of the charges against them, what burden of proof would you apply to the prosecution?

    You’d imagine incriminating phone or bank records would be required. Maybe suspicious gambling records or proven links to gambling syndicates would do the job. A paper trail would be ideal, obviously, but even strong circumstantial evidence might do.

    Either way, you’d expect the case to involve evidence of some kind, particularly given the seriousness of the offence. Not in Ireland, it seems. Under the FAI’s watchful eye, if there are betting irregularities associated with a game, just making a mistake on the pitch is proof of a player’s involvement.



    To explain the background, this case was triggered by a report the FAI received in May from the Uefa Betting Fraud Detection System (BFDS). The report highlighted irregular betting patterns associated with Athlone Town’s defeat to Longford Town on April 29th.The investigation that followed led to charges being brought against Sfrijan and Labuts, due to mistakes they each made in the build-up to two of Longford’s goals. This was based solely on the opinions of three men the FAI had asked to review the footage.

    To go back a little further, in late 2015 the FAI sold the international online viewing rights of the League of Ireland to a company called TrackChamp. The deal was structured in such a way, that to view the live footage, subscribers needed to have an active gambling account. Betting was no longer peripheral to the viewing experience, it was a requirement of entry. There were questions raised at the time about the wisdom of such a deal but the FAI said it was confident it was for the good of the game.

    Guilty verdict

    I was asked by the PFAI for my take on the footage of the two goals. I was originally hesitant, not wanting to compromise my ability to comment publicly on the case. I also warned Stephen McGuinness, PFAI general secretary, he shouldn’t presume my opinions would match his. Obviously I was aware of the wider context, but I approached it in the way I would any other game.

    As I expected, both players were guilty of poor defensive play. So too were several of their team-mates. I outlined this in my report, wondering why no other players were similarly cited.

    I concluded that I did not see anything in the footage I believed to be evidence of match-fixing. It was in keeping with the standard of play you’d expect from a team bottom of the First Division. In fact, it wasn’t far off what can be regularly seen in the division above.

    A guilty verdict was returned on Thursday. In addition to what the committee considered to be “deliberately inadequate” performances by the players, their financial arrangements were described as “insufficient and unconvincing”.

    I think the point is the players earn so little from playing football it aroused further suspicion. I found this puzzling, given that any contract agreements between clubs and players must be signed off by the FAI’s integrity officer, Fran Gavin, before they’re officially accepted by the FAI. If the terms were acceptable when they first joined the club, why is the FAI citing them now as grounds for concern?


    The PFAI say they will take their case to CAS if necessary and they might have to. First, though, they must go before an appeals panel put together by the FAI. They’ve already faced a three-man disciplinary committee, selected by the FAI.

    The case for the prosecution originally hinged on the testimony of a three-man panel of experts who viewed the match footage, all of whom were also selected by the FAI. The FAI, remember, are the ones taking the case against both players. The independence offered by CAS may offer some hope.

    Serious issues

    Some serious issues arise as a result of this case.

    Firstly, given the seriousness of the offences for which the FAI have found the players guilty, would it not be more appropriate to give lengthier bans? It’s not the greatest deterrent to would-be match-fixers to stay away from the league. If the League of Ireland wasn’t on the map for crooked footballers prior to this case, it certainly is now.

    Secondly, if this verdict is upheld and the precedent is established here, every footballer in the league should worry. The burden of proof is outlined as “comfortable satisfaction” in cases of match manipulation. So even when there is no evidence at all to link the two, the FAI will be comfortably satisfied of your guilt if you play badly in a game where there’s suspicious betting patterns. Regular observers know there’s often poor play, so it will be betting patterns that determine the vulnerability of the players involved.

    I don’t have the figures from before the signing of the TrackChamp deal, but the average market for First Division games is approximately €650,000 according to Uefa’s BFDS. That’s for each game. On average. In the First Division. I wonder whether the FAI believes there’s a link between the two. I suppose we could just go and ask their integrity officer.

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  23. #58
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    He certainly does. I take back what I said yesterday that it was a better outcome than I had expected. I presumed that for that FAI to reach a guilty conclusion they must have found some incriminating evidence. Apparently not! Another fine mess they've made...

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    International Prospect sadloserkid's Avatar
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    Dolan also said he was involved in the viewing of footage and saw nothing approaching conclusive. Shambles of an investigation.
    The ball is round and has many surprises.

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    Seasoned Pro NeverFeltBetter's Avatar
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    If the investigation and verdict was as badly handled as the various commentators have claimed, surely CAS and whoever else will order it overturned?
    Author of Never Felt Better (History, Film Reviews).

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