By Paul Nicholson
January 15 –Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey, banned for life by FIFA for match-fixing, has had his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) turned down. The CAS ruling and their published reasoning mark a significant landmark for FIFA and football’s federations in their battle against match-fixing and their ability to enforce judgements.
FIFA banned Lamptey for breaching art. 69 par 1 (unlawfully influencing match results) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code during the 2018 World Cup qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal on 12 November 2016.
Lamptey appealed the decision first via FIFA’s appeal mechanism and then to CAS. The CAS ruling leaves no doubt in their thinking that Lamptey made two intentionally wrong decisions in order to achieve a specific number of goals in the match. CAS said that, in their opinion there was an obvious link between the intentionally wrong decisions and a deviation from the expected betting patterns.
FIFA was first alerted to the match-fixing on 14 November 2016 by an ‘Escalation report’ sent by Sportradar that said: “There is clear and overwhelming betting evidence that the course or result of this match was unduly influence. The betting evidence ultimately indicated that bettors held prior knowledge of at least three goals being scored in total.”
In reaching their verdict CAS heard declarations from Lamptey as well as expert witnesses, and watched video of the match and Lamptey’s actions.
The CAS panel found that Lamptey’s on-field decisions were wrong and did not accept his explanation that they were “innocent” mistakes but that they were “intentionally taken”. Most crucially they linked the decisions to “the deviation from normality in betting patterns for the live Totals market. Such link shows that the Field Decisions were taken to influence the Match in a manner contrary to sporting ethics…”
FIFA said in a statement: “This CAS decision underlines FIFA’s commitment to protecting the integrity of football and its zero-tolerance policy on match manipulation, while also highlighting the effectiveness of its current agreement with Sportradar that uses their Fraud Detection System (FDS), which played an important role in this case.”
Looking at the bigger picture what this decision by CAS does is provide a blueprint within sport’s (and in this case FIFA’s) own law enforcement procedures to be able to confidently take the regulatory battle to match-fixers with the betting analysis and fraud monitoring tools they have available.
Andreas Krasnich, managing director Integrity Services at Sportradar, said: “We have the first successful case in co-operation with FIFA where FDS support has provided conclusive evidence…It is not just enough to come with an FDS or a monetary report. You specifically need a qualitative and quantitative approach.”
A consequence of the first decision by FIFA to ban Lamptey was, for the first time, to order the World Cup qualifying match to be replayed. This in turn triggered controversy (Senegal won the replay but had already qualified for Russia 2018 at the expense of Burkina Faso) but it did send a clear message on FIFA’s re-invigorated approach to match-fixing.
CAS in their reasoning emphasised that this was a decision on Lamptey and not on a wider conspiracy, though they did point to evidence that Lamptey had officiated in a number of matches similarly. The next challenge for FIFA will be to examine how far Lamptey was part of a wider ring and how they can break this network.
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