September 29, 2009

Real Madrid extends Bwin tie-up

Spanish football giants Real Madrid have extended their shirt sponsorship with Austrian online betting group Bwin by three years until 2013.

Experts say the nine-times European champions could earn more than 20m euros ($29.1m; £18.3m) a year from the renegotiated agreement.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said Bwin was "a loyal partner which understands sport".
Bwin's name first appeared on Madrid's shirt at the start of season 2007-08.
At the time the deal was said to be worth 15m to 20m euros a year.

Real Madrid's previous sponsor was BenQ, the German handset business of Taiwan's BenQ Corp, which went bust.

The Spanish club has gone on a spending spree over the summer months, acquiring Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Xavi Alonso, spending more than £200m.

September 26, 2009

UEFA investigates 40 cases of match-fixing over past 4 years

Soccer's European governing body is investigating 40 cases of match-fixing involving Champions League and UEFA Cup matches.

Peter Limacher, head of disciplinary services at UEFA, told The Associated Press on Friday the cases involved early qualifying matches of clubs "mainly from eastern Europe" over the last four years.

Of the 40 matches where UEFA has been alerted to suspicious betting patterns, 15 took place in the last two years, Limacher said.

"Right now it's mainly eastern Europe clubs being investigated. They know they are not going to be involved later in the tournament and they are going out, so decide, 'Let's make a profit," Limacher said. "In the cases we have seen, it's really the deliberate planned fix of the games, the whole games. First the result at halftime, then after 90 minutes.

"It might take some time (to convict) but, in cases where we can work together with the police, that might be possible."

Limacher said UEFA is building a network of informers across Europe to clamp down on match fixing.

UEFA announced last month that three Macedonian clubs were being investigated after banning the former champion FK Pobeda from European competitions for eight years.

One of the fixtures under suspicion is FK Milano's 12-2 aggregate loss in July against Croatia's Slaven Koprivnika in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, the new format for the UEFA Cup.

September 25, 2009

Danish goalkeeper Kim Christensen faces fine after moving goalposts

A goalkeeper is facing suspension and a heavy fine after — literally — moving the goalposts closer together to make it harder for the opponents to score in a top flight game in Sweden.

Kim Christensen, the Danish goalkeeper for IFK Gothenburg, was caught on camera kicking in both sides of his goal to reduce the target area slightly at the start of a crucial match in the All Sweden division, the equivalent of the English Premier League.

The game between IFK, who are top of the league and on course for a lucrative place in European competition next season, and Örebro was shown live on national television and the referee spotted that the posts were inside the guidelines marked on the pitch toward the end of the first half.

The referee moved them back out to their correct positions but because he was unaware at the time that the goalkeeper was responsible, the player was allowed to continue the game.

Faced with clear television evidence, however, Mr Christensen readily admitted after the fixture that this was not the first time he had moved the goalposts — which in Swedish football often rest on top of the playing surface and can easily be manipulated.

"I got the tip from a goalkeeping friend a few years ago, and since then I have done it from time to time," Mr Christensen told the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet, adding that the posts were not fixed into the ground at many Swedish football grounds.

Speaking after the game, Stefan Johansson, the referee, said: "Had I seen him do it I would have warned him. I think so anyway, it is not easy to find that rule."

According to Dag Wikman, a member of the Swedish FA's disciplinary committee, had the referee witnessed the incident then a penalty kick to Örebro would have been the correct response.

The game ended 0-0 but Örebro came close to scoring several times, so may decide to appeal to the Swedish Football Association's disciplinary board, especially given the view that they should have had a penalty in punishment for the goalpost move.

Mr Christensen has already been reported to the game's ruling body, which has admitted that it has never faced a disciplinary problem like it.

"I have never heard anything like this before, it is unique," the Swedish FA's disciplinary committee chairman, Kheneth Tallinger, told Aftonbladet.

IFK Gothenburg, who have twice won the Uefa Cup, lead the All Sweden league with 47 points on better goal difference than AIK of Stockholm. The season ends on November 1 and any points deduction would wreck their successful campaign.

September 24, 2009

Future uncertain for Cardiff City and 777ball

Advertising obstacles could put an end to the sponsorship deal inked between Welsh Cardiff City FC and 777ball, as reported by BBC.

The GBP 250,000 agreement is on shaky ground, thanks to marketing implications in the United Kingdom (UK).

It appears as though 777ball failed to secure a license to advertise in the UK, however, they may be able to continue their partnership with Cardiff City if they fall outside of the applicable regulations.

The 777ball logo debuted on the field last week, when the club faced off against Newcastle on their home turf.

In order to continue with the sponsorship deal, the company may have to relocate their offices to a European state or eligible country, as defined by the European Union.

The club has indicated that while they are not embarrassed by the situation, it is a disappointment.

In the meantime, Cardiff City will continue to discuss further sponsorship opportunities with other companies, showing confidence that a replacement could be found, if necessary.

September 23, 2009

The European Sports Security Association calls for a robust and independent global anti-corruption body

The European Sports Security Association (ESSA) today called for the establishment of a robust and independent global body able to hand down tough penalties and sanctions that will act as effective disincentives in tackling corruption in sport. ESSA’s call comes following the lenient sentence handed down by the World Motor Sport Council to the Renault Formula One team found guilty of arranging a crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Whilst the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) ruled that Renault was guilty of "breaches […] of unparalleled severity”, the Renault team received only a suspended sentence and has been allowed to compete to the end of the 2011 season. This notwithstanding the WMSC found the Renault team had not only “compromised the integrity of the sport” but also “endangered the lives of spectators, officials [and] other competitors”.

ESSA maintains there exists a fundamental contradiction with sports bodies self-regulating on issues of integrity: often faced with a conflict of interest between protecting the reputation of their sport and applying effective sanctions, too often sports bodies lean in favour of the former. That is why ESSA underlines the urgent need to establish a WADA-style (World Anti Doping Agency) body to tackle corruption in all sports globally. Khalid Ali, Secretary General of ESSA, said: “It’s in the interest of all sports bodies to promote their own sports and engage in damage limitation when a scandal breaks. This means that they often don’t apply the rules as rigorously enough as they could or should, or hand down the tough penalties that would act as effective deterrents. This latest episode is a prime example of this phenomenon. Corruption in sports is a global issue that requires a global answer.”

Misguided approach
Ostensibly in an effort to protect the integrity of sports, sports rights owners have in recent months been lobbying policy-makers for a levy on sports book operators in the form of a sports betting right, to fund their own integrity units. It is argued that the very nature of sports books promotes corruption and match-fixing in sports, and therefore the sports books industry should foot the bill for any efforts made by individual sports federations to tackle such corruption.

ESSA rejects this argument as spurious and asserts that the problem of corruption and match-fixing go much deeper, to the very heart of sports. To lay the blame for all sports corruption at the door of the betting industry is a mistake and morally wrong: this has been amply demonstrated by recent scandals in Formula One, Rugby, Handball and even Lawn Bowls, where none of the match-fixing scandals involved any links to betting.

Integrity in the balance
Secretary General of Brussels-based ESSA Khalid Ali stressed that sports integrity will not be guaranteed by the creation of a sports betting right, as currently envisioned in France, and that to view sports integrity through the prism of betting alone is facile. “It is unacceptable for sport federations to use the issue of sports integrity as a pretext to seek additional revenues from the gaming industry, when it is the members of sports federations themselves—whether players, coaches or officials—who are routinely found to be the origin of corruption in sports. The only effective way to tackling this malaise in sports is by applying stiff penalties: as sports federations themselves seem incapable of combating corruption within their respective sports, we see urgent need for a global sports policeman”, Ali concluded.

Brussels-based ESSA has monitoring agreements with a number of major sports federations and acts as an early-warning system in detecting and combating irregularities in betting patterns around sports fixtures.


About ESSA

The European Sports Security Association (ESSA) was established in 2005 by the leading online sports book operators in Europe to monitor any irregular betting patterns or possible insider betting from within each sport. To achieve this goal ESSA implemented an early warning system between its members that highlights any suspicious betting activity. The Early Warning System allows ESSA to work with the Sports Regulators and their disciplinary and legal department, ensuring that when an alert is given the regulator is informed immediately which may prevent the possibility of any game manipulation on a given event. So far, ESSA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with FIFA, UEFA, EPFL, The FA, DFB, ATP , ITF, WTA and has established close relations with the IOC and many other sports regulators.

Bulgarian football team victim of international gambling mafia

The Bulgarian football team Levski Sofia has recently become a victim of the international gambling mafia. The team has been deceived in the transfer of the players Zhivko Milanov, Ze Soares, Darko Tasevski, and Usef Rabeh to the Russian champion Rubin (Kazan), BGNES reported.

"Representatives" of the football club Rubin have been in contact with FC Levski`s president, Todor Batkov, and have been preparing him for the fraud. Two people, who presented themselves as agents of FC Rubin met with Batkov, and faxes with offers for the four players were received in the Levski`s offices. The two cited names and gave him contact telephone numbers.

While the team and the whole administration were in Villarreal, the attacks continued, and even the name of a contact person in Moscow was given. The team`s management decides to send the football players and the team`s Financial Director, Konstantin Bazhdekov to Moscow. There, they were welcomed by a man, who presented himself as a representative of the FC Rubin.

However, Todor Batkov, became suspicious Sunday and called the telephone number he was given earlier, and it turned out that it did not belong to the president of the FC Rubin at all. Batkov became a victim of the international gambling mafia, BGNES informed.

Meanwhile, the odds for the Bulgarian team CSKA Sofia winning over Levski Sofia in the Sunday`s game dropped drastically from 1.96 to 1.67 on the biggest Asian gambling web site, SBObet.

According to specialist, this could only mean that large sums of money were bet on CSKA winning. The offer for some of Levski`s best players was a false one, and it only aimed to weaken the team before the undying derby against CSKA, thus allowing some people to make a lot of money.

FC Levski`s management intends to approach the Bulgarian authorities, and to ask Interpol for assistance, in attempt to find the guilty ones.

September 18, 2009

Annette Obrestad new Betfair ad banned by ASA

Annette Obrestad is the latest poker pro to star in a new advertising campaign launched by Betfair Poker. The new ad was sent out by Betfair Poker via email and featured Obrestad and the tagline “Online experience is measured in games, not years. Join the new breed. Annette_15”. The ad has now been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) because it is likely to appeal to children and young people.

The ASA was checking out a complaint, and according to past advertising bans, they only need one complaint to investigate an advertisement. They stated this particular advertisement ‘was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people, and that, by representing a successful young poker player with the implication she is 15 years old, it could encourage young people to gamble and was therefore irresponsible.”

Betfair also ran into trouble with the ASA because any people featured in a gambling advertisement must be twenty five years of age or older and Obrestad is only twenty. Betfair responded to the ban by stating: “it did not believe the ad would encourage children and young people to gamble, partly because of the way the email was distributed and partly because of the technical measures they used to prevent children and young people from gambling on their site,” adding “Obrestad was featured in the ad not because of her age but because of her standing as a poker professional and champion who had had a profound effect on the game.”

September 14, 2009

Barcelona sign 2-year deal with Betfair

Spanish FC Barcelona has teamed up with Betfair in a two-year deal.

The online betting company now becomes the club’s official sponsor, gaining the right to create sports betting content throughout the Barcelona website.

Betfair will also be advertised on perimeter boards at Camp Nou, along with other forms of promotion.

Betfair has also secured rights to tickets, hospitality and training ground access, with plans to approach club members with special offers.

September 12, 2009

Ukraine v England could be screened live on internet after Setanta fallout

Broadcast rights to the game were originally sold to Setanta, but after the pay-TV operator collapsed earlier this year they reverted to international agency Kentaro, which bought the rights from the Ukraine FA.

Kentaro has spoken to all the major broadcasters but are yet to receive an offer for the game, which will be played on October 10, and is now pursuing a live pay-per-view internet option as a back-up plan.

Specialist digital sports platform Perform have been instructed to market and stream the match live on a pay-per-view basis. Perform stream over 15,000 events annually, and streamed live Uefa Cup matches featuring Tottenham and Manchester City last year.
Sources close to the negotiations said Sky have indicated that they are not currently interested in taking the game, ITV have not made a bid and the BBC made a low bid before withdrawing it.

England could qualify for the World Cup with victory over Croatia this week, but should their fate rest on the Ukraine match then broadcasters may re-examine their reluctance.

Philipp Grothe, CEO of the Kentaro Group said; “We have spoken to every traditional UK broadcaster and currently have no offer on the table. We therefore feel the internet delivers the most viable option to deliver an important England game directly to the fans. It will be the first time in history that an England game has had an exclusive web broadcast.”

Andrew Croker, Executive Chairman of Perform said; “We have pioneered sports coverage on the internet for the last ten years and currently have 20 million football fans using our online services every month. We’re very excited about working with Kentaro to deliver this landmark event.”

The Ukraine game is the only England match currently unresolved following Setanta’s collapse, with ITV having picked up the scheduled home qualifiers and friendly games.

September 01, 2009

Bodog signs 3-year deal with Fulham

Fulham FC and Bodog Europe have signed a three-year sponsorship deal, appointing Bodog Europe as the Premier League team’s official betting and gaming partner.

Established in 1879, Fulham is one of London’s oldest football clubs. It is owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, the Egyptian tycoon that owns businesses including London department store Harrod’s.

Bodog Europe launched its gaming and betting offerings earlier this year. The sponsorship deal includes Bodog branding presence at Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium incorporating perimeter advertising at home matches, as well as inclusion in the club’s match day programmes and official publications and a sponsorship presence on Fulham’s club website,