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Match fixing scandal: renewed calls for reform

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For more information contact Sharon Smith on 0433 620 850 or Nick Xenophon on 0411 626 677



Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has renewed calls for anti-match-fixing legislation he introduced in 2011 to be passed.

This follows the news of arrests in Victoria on the weekend over allegations of soccer team Southern Stars Football Club were involved in a $2million match-fixing swindle.

The 2011 Bill—rejected by both major parties—provided for a ban on micro-betting as well as a broader framework for tackling match-fixing.

“In 2011 the major parties ignored my Bill to tackle this scourge,” Nick said. “What’s clear from the February 2013 Australian Crime Commission report and recent events is that urgent reform is needed to tackle this cancer on Australian sport.

“Micro-betting, or ball-by-ball betting, gives macro opportunities for corruption and it’s time it was outlawed once and for all.”

Senator Xenophon was also critical of the AFL for not adequately tackling the issue of drug use and match-fixing issues. At a Senate Inquiry in March this year, the AFL’s manager of integrity services Brett Clothier admitted that information on drug use of a player was sent to the AFL’s Medical Unit, but not conveyed to its Integrity Unit.

“The ACC report made it clear that athletes taking illicit drugs are particularly vulnerable to being involved in match-fixing. It seems incredible the AFL was not addressing this adequately at that time.”

Senator Xenophon was also critical of the Victorian Premier Denis Napthine’s comments that “99.9 per cent of matches are absolutely above board”.

“I hope Premier Napthine’s right, but right now, with inadequate information-sharing the extent of match-fixing and corruption in sport is a ‘known unknown’. We’ll only really know if there are adequate powers for authorities to tackle this problem, together with a ban on micro-bets, which make match-fixing much easier.”

Attached is a copy of the letter to Andrew Demetriou, dated 19/3/2013


Our ref: NC-A/SW

Mr Andrew Demetriou Chief Executive Officer Australian Football League GPO Box 1449 MELBOURNE, VIC 3001

Dear Mr Demetriou,

I write following the AFL’s appearance before the Senate inquiry into the advertising and promotion of gambling services in sport in Melbourne on March 5, 2013.

During that hearing, the AFL’s Manager of Integrity Services, Brett Clothier, gave evidence relating to the relationship between the AFL’s integrity and medical units.

I refer to the following excerpt:

Senator XENOPHON: My final question relates to what was alluded to in the ACC report about the link between professional athletes and organised criminal identities and groups. There was a discussion about effectively grooming and corrupting players. Are you satisfied that the current AFL policy on drug use amongst athletes provides enough protection for integrity in terms of, if a player is caught using an illicit substance, the potential impact that could have by way of being blackmailed or compromised by an organised criminal group?

Mr Clothier: Yes, I am very satisfied about the effect of our policy because the aim of it is to ensure players receive the counselling and treatment they need to stop being drug users. I think that is the best protection of all in that regard.

Senator XENOPHON: I am not disputing that with you but, if somebody has been taking illicit drugs, is there an extra level of vigilance in terms of their links to those who provided them with those drugs and the issue of match fixing?

Mr Clothier: The policy is based on confidentiality. The only people who know about a positive strike are the AFL medical


directors, club doctors and the players involved. That information does not come to me or to anyone else.

Senator XENOPHON: But shouldn't it? If there is a vulnerability or weakness there if a person is taking illicit drugs—and I am not taking issue with what the AFL is doing to assist players— shouldn't you at least know about that from an integrity point of view, because that is the very thing that the Australian Crime Commission was talking about with the potential for match fixing and players being compromised?

Mr Clothier: That is a very good question. There is a balance in this between the rights of players who might have made a silly mistake or who might have mental health problems, for example, and the relevance of that to integrity. The AFL, you may be aware, has currently formed a working party to review certain aspects of the illicit drugs policy. The club CEOs and the industry affirmed the commitment to the three-strikes policy and the medical model that we have, but questions such as the one you asked will be considered further by the working group that is being assembled.

Senator XENOPHON: You don't see that there is a gap in your job and what you can do to maintain the integrity of the game if you don't know about a player taking illicit substances, and presumably having a link with the organised criminal elements that are referred to in the ACC report? Don't you think you should know in order to do your job properly?

Mr Clothier: That concern needs to be balanced against other considerations, being the stated aims of the code to make it a medical model. I understand that that is a balancing act that we have to take a considered approach to.

I also refer to the following excerpt from the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) report, which states:

Illicit drug use by athletes leaves them particularly vulnerable for other criminal purposes, including match-fixing and fraud arising out of the provision of ‘inside information’

While I recognise the importance of maintaining confidentiality when it comes to the medical records of a player, I am concerned that it would appear that incidences of illicit drug use are not reported to the Integrity Unit despite the abovementioned ACC finding.

Are you able to provide me with any information on the AFL’s policy on the internal sharing of confidential information?


Further, I would appreciate advice as to whether you believe the AFL’s ‘three-strikes’ illicit drug policy is adequate in light of the ACC report. Do you acknowledge that integrity issues are not being adequately addressed under current policies?

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this issue with you further.

Yours sincerely,


19 / 03 / 2013