Match-Fixing Scandal Results in Four Arrests
December 26th, 2019 3.00pm
A match-fixing scandal has shaken France after four people were taken into custody over their involvement in a number of suspicious wagers.
According to the report posted by L’Equipe, four Winamax employees have been arrested by the police and questioned after the authorities suspected they were involved in fixing a match of the Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1, Algeria’s top division of football.
The whole case has so far drawn plenty of attention, as it’s the first time it directly involves employees of a gambling company. Winamax is one of the leading names in the French online gaming market.
Earlier this year, seven people were arrested and later charged with criminal conspiracy. They were charged with fixing the match between DRB Tadjenanet and ES Setif, played in the last round of the 2018 Algerian football league season.
DRB Tadjenanet was facing relegation, and desperately needed a win against ES Setif, the league’s then-champions. Although they were the underdogs in this match, DRB Tadjenanet won the game after a five-goal thriller, which also saw 3 penalties being awarded – one for the home team, and two for the visitors.
Before the match, the French gambling watchdog Autorité de régulation des Jeux en ligne (ARJEL) noted several stakes placed by bettors in France on Tadjenanet’s 3-2 victory, at odds varying from 30/1 to 40/1 depending on the sportsbook.
All Payouts Frozen
ARJEL revealed that in total more than £85,000 in wagers were made on several sports betting websites, which would have brought between £250,000 and £340,000 to players who had placed these bets. The biggest single bet made was worth a little over £850.
However, as ARJEL suspected something was fishy about this match, it was quick to react, suspending the match. In practice, this means that no winnings were awarded.
At this moment, all the details of the operations are not revealed, but it’s suspected that the Winamax employees knew about the fix, and made a large number of smaller wagers on a 3-2 win for DRB Tadjenanet.
In a statement published by L’Equipe, a spokesperson for Winamax confirmed the company’s employees were indeed arrested.
The match, which took place on May 12, 2018, at Stade Lahoua Smaïl in Tadjananet also draw the attention of the reporters from BBC News Arabic, which were investigating corruption in the Algerian football league. The investigation, which had been going on for two years, revealed a widespread match-fixing in the county’s top level of football, which took place almost every week. Match-fixing was especially active in the closing stages of the football season when teams were fighting for trophies or to avoid relegation.
Do You Want to Buy a Penalty?
The investigation revealed an underground market where owners of football teams would purchase penalty kicks, paying up to £13,000 for one. This market also included other items as well, including the services of referees.
The investigators believe this network of corruption was limited only on domestic competitions, as team owners were interested in buying games needed to win the title or avoid relegation. In some cases, they used the money to increase political influence.
The BBC even talked to a team owner, who wished not to reveal his identity, and who explained he wanted to run for an MP, and simply couldn’t allow his team to be relegated, as that would make him less popular among voters.
It should be noted that this is not the first time that the problem of match-fixing left the borders of Algeria. Will CAF or FIFA react in this case, remains to be seen.
Four Winamax employees suspected they were involved in fixing a match in Algeria’s elite division.