All posts by Simon Pallesen

Hopeful Footballers From Poor Countries get Ripped off by Fake Agents

Steve Menary experienced nothing but silence from several football associations. Foto: Simon Pallesen
Steve Menary experienced nothing but silence from several football associations. Foto: Simon Pallesen

The story of Vurlon Mills is not unique. The footballer from Guyana was approached by an agent from Europe named Navarro Aparicio José who offered him a trail in the the English football club, Bristol City.

All he had to do, was to transfer £500 to a German adress via Western Union to cover travel expenses.

That is roughly three months of salary, but Vulron persuaded his uncle to make the payment, because the Agent was licensed by FIFA

Send more money

Shortly after the payment was made, the agent asked for more money. When Vurlon Mills asked to cancel the deal and get his uncle’s money back, the agent disappeared.

And reclaiming his money proved impossible. The agent who approached him on Facebook used the licensed agent´s identity, but the money was not possible to trace, because they were transferred via Western Union.

Bristol City had not been in contact with any agent regarding Vurlon Mills, but their spokesman said, that they were often contacted by players, who had received false letters form the club.

No one cares

The English journalist, Steve Menary, has contacted the football associations of England, Italy and Spain, to get a comment about this matter. No one responded.

He also contacted some of the real agents, whose identities were used in the scam. No one responded.

In the meanwhile the number of agents with no contact information on the FIFA website continues to increase, making it even easier for the kingpins to have a successful scam.

Gamze Bal: The Turks don’t Support the National Team Because of Corruption

Gamze Bal talks about match-fixing in Turkey. Foto: Simon Pallesen
Gamze Bal talks about match-fixing in Turkey. Foto: Simon Pallesen

Fenerbahce won the championship in 2011. They did that with an impressive winning streak, as 16 out of the last 17 games in the season were won.

But many people found that suspicious and police launched an investigation finding six clubs guilty of match-fixing.

Among the suspects was the president of Fenerbahce, Aziz Yildirim. He was sentenced to six years and three months of imprisonment, but he is still the president of Fenerbahce, while he is waiting for the outcome of an appeal

No relegation  

The Turkish Football Federation was run by Mehmet Ali Aydınlar. He is a former board member of Fenerbahce, and a well known passionate fan.

”I do not want to be remembered as the president who relegated Fenerbahce. People who question my love for Fenerbahce, did not serve the club as much as I did”, said Mehmet Ali Aydınlar shortly after he stepped down as president.

Now he is running for president of Fenerbahce.

The national team suffers

”The Turkish people now see football as a theatre. They think that everything is settled before the games” said Turkish journalist, Gamze Bal, at Play the Game in Aarhus.

Because of the involvement of members of The Turkish Football Federation, the national team feels the consequences of the scandal.

”When the national team plays, the stands are almost empty. People don’t even support the team, because the Turkish Football Federation is run by corrupted figures”, says Gamze Bal.

Smartphones Could be New Safe Haven for Whistleblowers

Players can now report match-fixing on their smartphine. Foto: steefafa/flickr
Players can now report match-fixing on their smartphine. Photo: steefafa/flickr

A lot of initiatives to combat match-fixing are seeing the daylight these days. And according to Harri Syväsalmi, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, there is a need for that.

That is why he hails the invention of a smartphone app called ”Don’t fix it.” The initiative is funded by the European Union, and it is coordinated by FIFPro.

It can only be downloaded by athletes who can anonymously submit information, if the have suspicion about match-fixing.

Big success – yet still no cases

“We have visited every club in the top three tiers in the mens league, and the top two tiers of the womens league”, says Markus Juhola the chairman of the Finnish Players Union.

The app has been downloaded 1.300 times, which is an overwhelming majority of the roughly 1.600 players in Finland

Eight countries are involved at the moment, but so far nothing has come out of the five to six reported cases.

Many cases in Finland

It is no coincidence, that Finland is one of the countries, where the app is now being tested. They received a major wake up call back in 2005, and there has been several cases since.

Back then the football club AC Allianssi lost suspiciously 8-0 to FC Haka. But a police investigation failed to find enough evidence to open a case.

”In 2005 it was very chaotic. Neither the police, nor anybody else knew what to do”, says Petri Heikkinen from the Finish Sport Federation.

Dale Sheehan from Interpol: Match-fixing is Growing

Chris Eaton argues that a cultur of rejection is needed. Foto: Simon Pallesen
Chris Eaton argues that a cultur of rejection is needed. Foto: Simon Pallesen

One of the frontliners in the war against match-fixing, Dale Sheehan, put cold facts on the table, in yesterday’s debate on how to fight the phenomenon.

Interpol has received reports about match-fixing from 70 countries this year alone.

Despite the shocking numbers, Dale Sheehan remains an optimist, and he believes that the war can be won.

10-year program against match-fixing

One of the reasons for his optimism is, that Interpol and FIFA launched a 10 year cooperation deal to combat match fixing in 2011.

The program works on many levels, but prevention is the main strategy. A lot of e-learning programs have been created targeting various groups of potential match-fixers such as established players, young players, referees, managers and coaches.

But the efforts go further than that. Face to face training og is also a part of fight.

Match-fixing in football is growing

Interpol have had a busy year regarding match-fixing, resulting in more than 2.000 arrests.

But the fact that match-fixing is still growing shows that more needs to be done, to win the war against the gambling syndicates.

As prevention is seen as the main tool, the young players are crucial contenders.

”We need a culture of rejection”

According to Chris Eaton, director of the International Center for Sports Security, proscecution does not solve anything.

”We need a culture and automatic rejection”, he said during the debate.

He argued, that this culture could be superior to the money problems, which the Professional Football Players association identified as the main reason to the match-fixing scandals.

Match-Fixing Convicted Mario Cizmek Speaks Out to Warn Young Footballers

Mario Cizmek
The former football player Mario Cizmek talked about his life with match-fixing at Play the Game in Aarhus. Photo: Thomas Søndergaard/PlaytheGame

”I should have thrown away my football boots and done somthing else,” says Mario Cizmek, when he reflects on the time when he tried to solve his money problems by taking bribes.

The former Croatia Sesvete player couldn’t quite describe the feeling he had when he played the first fixed game.

As a sportsman, he always played a game to win. Until the day when they lost 2-1

”The journalists could have beaten us”

Eight of the players on his team were a part of the scam that handed the victory to the opponents.

Mario Cizmek explains that the players simply gave 70 percent instead of the 100 that everyone expects a professional footballer to do.

”Even the journalists could have beaten us,” Mario says when he thinks of the first of the six fixed matches he was involved in

Three teams involved

The match-fixing scandal involved 24 players from eight different teams. He says that everyone knew who was a part of the deal.

The games had no significance for his team because they had already been before the started to lose on purpose.

That made the team an easy target for the match fixers because there was nothing suspicious about a bottom table team losing matches.

”Don’t feel sorry for me”

Mario Cizmek did not come to speak at Play the Game in Aarhus because he wants people to feel sorry for him.

”I know, what I have done. I just want to warn young footballers not to do what I did”.

He already spent 47 days in jail after his arrest, and now he is facing up to 10 months behind bars.