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Inquiry over EPL match fixing in limbo

Inquiry over EPL match fixing in limbo

In organized sports, match fixing happens as a match is played to a completely pre-determined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law. According to some sources, the most common reason for match fixing is to obtain a payoff from gamblers, but players may also intentionally perform poorly to gain a future advantage.

Match fixing, when motivated by gambling, requires contact (and normally money transfers) between gamblers, players, team officials and referees.  These contacts and transfers can sometimes be found out and lead to prosecution by law enforcement or sports leagues. Explanation about match fixing put it that losing for future advantage is internal to the team and very hard to prove.

The probable incidence of match fixing in local football, especially in the Ethiopian Premier League (EPL), is not an exactly inconceivable proposition. Since EPL started, every relegated club has been complaining about match fixing and referees have always been singled out as the guilty party.

Instances of match fixing during last EPL season have defied easy solutions by Ethiopia’s football governing body – the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF).

On EPL week 30’s final match between Hawassa City and Electric, the debut participating club Jimma Aba Bunna called for an inquiry because of allegations of match fixing between two players of Hawasa City and Electric. The match ended in a draw. However, according to a statement by Jimma Aba Bunna, the result helped Electric to stay in the league while the former was condemned to relegation, placed 14th.

After the match, EFF has not been able to change the result.

“Before the match started, we alerted EFF that there has been a rumor about a match-fixing deal between two players, Jimma Aba Bunna executive committee member Shemsu Jemal told The Reporter.

Following that, EFF dispatched an investigative team to Hawasa to follow up the case and report results. Conducting a three-week-long investigation, the team confirmed that players were engaged in acts of match fixing. Jimma also vowed to take the case to the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Meanwhile, the Jimma Zone court has sent a request to Ethio Telecom asking for call logs between the suspected players.

With all the available evidence, Jimma Aba Bunna stated they would not be participating in the league until the football governing body passed a fair decision. Meanwhile, after a period of indecision lasting three months, EFF Tuesday announced that the case had been referred to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Federal Police.

“We are not decision makers and the national federation is also awaiting decision from the judiciary. So, EFF doesn’t have a right to make decision by itself.” EFF executive committee member Wondemkun Alayou told The Reporter.

Over the last week, the Oromia Football Federation announced that unless a decision is announced soon, the region will be going its own way by hosting annual football tournaments involving only Oromia-based clubs.

In a related news, the Oromia Football Federation warned EPL-participating Oromia clubs -- Adama City, Jimma Aba Bunna and other higher league clubs -- not to take part in the 2017/18 EPL season unless the national federation disclosed the finally decision.

In addition to providing follow-up to the federal office for criminal investigation, the commission has also followed up with 12 witnesses, including commissioners and resident reporters. EPL’s new season will commence end of October, and results of the criminal investigation are expected to be announced before that.

FIFA has a zero-tolerance approach towards match manipulation. FIFA’s Early Warning System (EWS) was set up in 2005 with the aim of ensuring the integrity of football worldwide. In addition, the FIFA integrity initiative, launched in 2012, supports all 211 members associations, and focuses on five areas: prevention, detection, intelligence gathering, investigation and sanctions.