FIFA released the full transcript of the Court of Arbitration for Sport Panel’s decision and reasoning this week, outlining why the Panel dismissed referee Mr Joseph Lamptey’s appeal against the decision by the Appeal Committee of FIFA dated 27 April 2017 (CAS 2017/A/5173 Joseph Odartei Lamptey or “Lamptey” from here on in).
The case is a critical decision in the fight against matchfixing if for no other reason than that the decision led to the World Cup 2018 Qualification Match in question, South Africa v Senegal, which was originally played on 12 November 2016 and ended in a 2-1 win for the South African team, being replayed last November. This is the first time in history that a FIFA match has been replayed for reasons connected to matchfixing, with the replayed game ending 2-0 to Senegal.
However, the profile of the case has led to a lot of speculation as to what the decision means, how it should be interpreted and where matchfixing efforts go from here. Sportradar’s Dr Laila Mintas, who is also a Professor for Global Sports Law at Columbia University NYC / ISDE program and Joint Editor of World Sports Advocate, pulls out some key lessons from the case.
FIFA were fortunate enough to receive information from five bet monitoring agencies within days of the match being played. First to send an alert about betting patterns was the Global Lotteries Monitoring Service, which was received by FIFA on the 12th November. Next came a full Fraud Detection System Report from Sportradar’s Integrity Services, (who, at this stage were not officially partnering FIFA for anti-matchfixing services), which came through on the 14th November. Later on the same day, FIFA Early Warning System sent through an alert, which was followed by an alert on the 15th from Star Lizard, and last to the party were Genius Sport, who delivered their alert notification on the 16th November. EWS amalgamated information to submit its “Final Monitoring Report” on 6 January 2017 (cls 7, 11 & 14).
Some have speculated that the CAS decision here establishes a need for federations or leagues to use, employ or rely on multiple, concurring opinions or alerts or Reports from a range of agencies. Clause 80 says: “The Panel is convinced by the concurring opinions of a number of experts, who rendered declarations in this arbitration, and finds it extremely meaningful that a number of entities active on the betting market immediately and spontaneously detected the irregular betting patterns and raised concerns as to the integrity of the Match”. Whilst it certainly recognises the strength of evidence in this case, there is nothing in the decision that mandates information or opinions from multiple bet monitoring agencies or suggests that they are necessary. Indeed, previous cases CAS 2016/A/4650 Klubi Sportiv Skenderbeu v. UEFA (Skenderbeu), FK Kruoja Pakruojis and Gloria Buzau have all shown that Reports submitted by a single monitoring agency based on credible expertise and that has passed a rigorous independent review, can in fact be enough without further concurring alerts or reports. In each of those cases, Sportradar’s FDS and Reports stood alone and secured ground-breaking convictions, something which sets it apart from any of the other monitoring systems out there.
Indeed, while Sportradar’s Integrity Services have now been established as providers of sufficient evidence to meet the ‘comfortable satisfaction’ test that was necessary in UEFA v Skenderbeu without any further alerts, there have been no cases (FIFA v Lamptey included) that have tested, reviewed or passed any judgement on the credibility of any other stand-alone alert or Report provider.
As an aside, some commentators have suggested that Skenderbeu cannot be considered a practical template or guide to future action or cases, because the club had over 50 Reports submitted on it by Sportradar. The Panel in Skenderbeu actually did not look at all the Sportradar FDS Reports submitted and deciding instead only to focus on the four that fell directly under UEFA’s jurisdiction (cl. 73 & 74 of Skenderbeu). Consequently, anyone positioning the case as some kind of radical outlier or anomaly has misunderstood the central factual matrix that underpinned the case.
Reports v Alerts
It is critical to understand that while alerts are useful, by themselves they are not indicative of much. Irregular betting patterns happen all the time and they can only be deemed suspicious and actionable when a full analysis is undertaken to establish whether there are no legitimate reasons for those irregular patterns. The Skenderbeu decision clearly interrogated this distinction and established that while alerts are a vital quantitative part of the process, if submitted without any qualitative analysis to interrogate the alert and its surrounding circumstances, they are nowhere near enough to meet a “comfortable satisfaction” test, let alone any criminal test along the lines of “beyond reasonable doubt”.
This raises the question how much confidence the Panel were able to take from the Sportradar FDS Report (considering the Skenderbeu Panel had only recently established that FDS Reports in isolation are enough to meet the “comfortable satisfaction” test) and how much extra confidence it could take from the other alerts. Extra confidence is always welcome and is likely why FIFA submitted those other alerts and report as part of the information bundle, but it would have been interesting to know how much difference it made. This is especially true in light of the fact that at cl. 40, 2 of the 4 expert declarations made to the Panel specifically leant on the Sportradar FDS Reports in outlining the validity of the concerns around the match.
The Evolution of Monitoring Agencies
When I was Head of Legal and International Development at FIFA EWS I was driving FIFA’s efforts in preventing and identifying matchfixing, but now that this entity, which is featured throughout the Lamptey decision, has been disbanded; and now that FIFA followed up its receipt of the FDS Report from Sportradar with a long-term and worldwide Integrity Partnership, it will be interesting to see how this particular space evolves. Sportradar’s Integrity Service have established a dominant position working with over 70 rights owners across 17 sports worldwide; they have supported or initiated over 200 sporting sanctions and this is the fourth CAS successfully supported by their expert evidence in the space of a year or two. The Skenderbeu position has given them a clear pole position in terms of credibility and I would be surprised if FIFA don’t pick up the Lamptey case as a motivation for further cases driven by Sportradar’s FDS Reports.
This case establishes that FIFA is committed to working with the best, investing in integrity and pursuing matchfixing or others who may be trying to undermine the integrity of football results around the world. With literally tens of thousands of matches across the continents now being monitored, fixers are finding life tougher and tougher every year, with every case. Decisions like in the Lamptey case will give sports governing bodies and criminal justice authorities the confidence in the tools they have at their disposal to pursue with greater intensity what is the biggest threat to sport’s integrity.
Dr. Laila Mintas, is Deputy President Sportradar US. She is a lawyer and was formerly Director of Sports Integrity at CONCACAF. Prior to this she was Head of Legal and International Development for FIFA’s Early Warning System (EWS) in Zurich. She previously practised law at international law firm White & Case LLP, headquarters in New York, and has lectured law at the Humboldt University of Berlin. She is a professor for Sports Law at the ISDE program at Columbia University.