«Transcript of the Safeguarding the Integrity of Sport Forum May 2015 A production of Play by the Rules In cooperation with © Play by the Rules 2015 ...»
The old honey trap has been around for many, many years, and continues to be used. This was an example in the IPL where cheerleaders were removed from the IPL because they had links to Eastern European organized crime groups. So, the Eastern European organized crime groups were providing the girls, who were going to the IPL parties, associating with the players, and you can just see how things evolved from that. And the IPL parties were
So, once again, players who are married men are finding themselves in situations where photos are being produced. What position are they finding themselves in when a photo is produced and they’ve said, “Well, I’m going to go to your wife now, so this is what you’re going to do for me”? And this is how easy it’s happening.
http://sport-integrity.s3.amazonaws.com/MIchael_Franzeze.mov So, this is a video that was prepared by Sport Accord. It involves Michael Franzese, who is a capo for the La Cosa Nostra, Italian Mafia based in the U.S. And he’ll just talk you through some of the things that he used to get up to with his business.
Video script: I’m not going to sugar-coat anything. That life, at times, is a violent life. And if you had to use the threat of violence or violence itself to get your jobs done, you do it. And unfortunately, I know of cases where an athlete was put in the hospital or handicapped in a way that he couldn’t play the game. It happens.
I’m Michael Francese, and for almost 20 years of my life, I was a made man in the Colombo crime family in New York, one of the five New York La Cosa Nostra families. And I was involved in gambling. I had a major gambling operation. When you’re involved in that life, some way, somehow, you’re involved in gambling. And I had, at any point in time, 12 or 13 bookmakers working for me.
Obviously, their targets were always athletes. They’re pretty easy to exploit. And you know, to me, it was great business. If we can get athletes going along with us to compromise 40 Keeping sport safe, fair and inclusive the outcome of a game, terrific, because there was big money in it. So, it was major, major business for me. In life, it says that when you borrow money, you become a slave to the lender. Well, when you’re an athlete, and you get involved with a gambler, you become a slave to the fixer. It’s the same thing. You’re going to do his bidding. Once you cross that line, do one thing for that gambler, you become his slave.
You know, we used to hang out in some of the clubs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, where a lot of the college teams would come in and play, St. John’s, some of the major universities. And a lot of these basketball players would go to the same clubs. They like to hang out. They like to party. My guys love to party. We live for that. And we’d get our eye on one or two of the guys and wine them and dine them—”Hey, come on over to the table! We’re your friends.
Sit down. Have a bit to eat. Bring a few women over. Give them attention.” And these are women that we knew, probably had something to do with the club most of the time. And you kind of bring this along once, twice, three times, four times. Finally, you set them up for the conversation, because we’re friends now. “Sit down. Let me talk to you.” And I’d say, “Listen, you’re a smart guy. I’m your good friend. Let me tell you how you’re going to make some money”—10 grand in my pocket, pull it out, put it on a table in front of him, more money than they’ve ever seen in cash in their life. Once they get into us, so to speak, then they do whatever they’re told to do, and that’s it.
And inevitably, the scenario that I just described always turns. And the way it will turn is this.
Athletes have a harder time underperforming than they do overperforming, because they’re athletes at heart, and especially these young kids in college. These are not criminals right off the bat. These are young kids. And it gets into their heads, and eventually, they’ll come back and say, “You know what? I have 20 grand, 30 grand, 40 grand. I can’t do this anymore.
It’s getting to me. Thank you very much for the opportunity.” And my response was always the same—”Excuse me? We had a deal. You don’t break your word with me. You’ve got 10 games to go. You’re done when I tell you you’re done. That’s it.” Again, there’s no love relationship between a mob guy and whoever their player is, or their pawn, or whoever it is.
They’re there to make money, and that’s it.
I’ve been to every major league baseball team, most of the NFL, all the NBA, and over 400 universities here in American sports, every student athlete. You would be surprised how naive these people are. They know what they’re doing on the field, but they’re very naive when it comes to the business of gambling. When I do a football team, I’ll get the biggest guy in there, usually a guard or tackle, and say, “Stand up.” They get all nervous. “Stand up.
What are you worried about? You’re three times my size. Stand up.” And he’ll stand up, and I’ll say, “You’re pretty good on the field. I wouldn’t match up with you in any way, shape, or form. But I’ll tell you what. You cross this line and you come into my business, the business of gambling, and I’ll make a sissy out of you, because I don’t play by the rules, and I’m not afraid to hurt you, and I’m not going to fight you.” I’ll say, “I’ll get you the way I have to get you. So, you don’t want to know somebody like me.” Play by the Rules Damien: So, basically, it has all the elements that we talked about, university players, naive athletes, night clubs, girls—you’re hearing it from the horse’s mouth. The key is that we now know that we know organized crime and how it works. We talk about the amount of money that it can make. We now know that there are betting markets on sub-elite sports in Australia. So, basically, all the factors that we need present are starting to sort of come together. The betting markets on sub-elite aren’t massive, but a couple weeks ago, I looked online at SBO. There was a suburban football game being offered by an Asian bookmaker, and it didn’t just have a single market. It had five separate markets going on that suburban game. It was offered live. So, it shows that there’s sufficient liquidity and interest in those markets that the Asian operators are running those markets.
The other thing is that the sub-elite markets and these lower-level markets are quite popular with professional gamblers, because they believe the bookmakers haven’t got the odds right. The bookmakers have EPO and the big games priced absolutely perfectly, but professional gamblers start targeting these smaller-level leagues, because they believe the odds may not be quite right, and they can make more money out of that.
So, what we’ve done to work towards addressing this is that, back in 2011, the Australian government recognized, and the state governments recognized, the threat that was being posed to Australian sport, and developed the national policy on match-fixing. It was supported by all Australian governments, commonwealth, state, and territory, Australian sports, and the sports betting industry. What that does is sets out the roles and responsibilities of each of those groups, because this isn’t a single issue that can be addressed by anyone. Everyone has to come together to work towards this, because there are so many different players in this world, and so many different moving parts.
So, what it does is actually involves corporations, spells out how we’re going about addressing that, and this is a sort of a schematic of the way this works. Looking at prevention, there have been a lot of working relationships in getting good legislation in place so that Australia is one of the only places in the world that has specific match-fixing legislation across most of the states here in Australia. So, when the police actually go and do a match-fixing job, they have specific legislation carrying a 10-year jail term. And the reason for that was so we had telephone intercept powers, because you need telephone intercept to understand what’s going on.
42 Keeping sport safe, fair and inclusive Good, strong code of conduct—sports have the power to conduct investigations, and players and officials and everyone know what their responsibilities are about inside information and things like that. Education is essential, making sure that people understand the world that they’re now finding themselves in, and what they have to do to protect themselves. And integrity agreements exist between sports and betting operators that allow information exchange so that, if there’s a suspicious bet on a game, that information can be exchanged between those agencies.
Gambling regulation is looking at providing a strongly regulated gambling environment in Australia. Our aim is to try and keep as many people onshore as we can. We don’t want parties going overseas, because you lose visibility of what’s happening once the parties go overseas. So, as much as we can keep Australian parties onshore, it’s actually advantageous for us, and is actually better for us, from an integrity perspective, because we can actually see what’s going on in those markets.
And then, sanctions—once again, we talked about the carrot-and-stick, so having strong sanctions, not only criminal sanctions, but also sanctions for sports—and basically, all of this is coming together. And there’s a lot going on internationally, so NISU is working a lot with the European Convention with sport, the AIIC. There’s a lot of work going on internationally, because internationally, it’s recognized that it’s a threat that sport is now facing. So, that basically gives you an understanding of what’s going on there.
The other thing is that there have been online resources. We talked about education. So, there were specific templates that were developed by NISU that allowed sports to basically lift these templates and drop them into their sports, and then they’d have a match-fixing policy. There’s the Keep Sport Honest, which is an online package, which is aimed at teaching athletes about how to protect themselves, how to not expose yourself to integrity threats, and what to do in those situations. So, there’s been a lot of active work with the NSOs and getting sports to engage in those resources.
Play by the Rules “ Just be pragmatic, and start thinking about how your sport could be infiltrated or manipulated, and how you could actually go ” about reducing those vulnerabilities.
We also have code-of-conduct templates, as well. So, we basically wanted to make it as easy as we could, so we’d have resources for the sports, so they could drop them into their own sport. So, I think the issue is that we want you to think about it. Don’t just think this isn’t going to happen to you anymore. What we’re saying is—we’re not saying you have to build this sophisticated integrity framework. All we’re saying is, “Just be pragmatic, and start thinking about how your sport could be infiltrated or manipulated, and how you could actually go about reducing those vulnerabilities.” The NISU has been doing a lot of work in actually understanding the threat and vulnerability profile across Australian sport, so we actually have a pretty good understanding now of which sports the threat is greatest, and where the vulnerabilities actually lie across Australian sports. And some people here have actually engaged in that process.
Education and prevention is absolutely essential, and that’s the first step, actually getting this out and educating people as much as we can about what’s happening and how this world works. What we’re saying is also—start asking questions. Know who’s hanging around your club. Know who’s around your players. Start asking questions about sponsors and benefactors. If you have a guy that comes out of nowhere and offers you a half-million dollar check, why is that the case? It’s the old adage—if it sounds too good to be true, it most probably is.
We have had examples where criminal individuals have offered to buy clubs, or offered to provide sponsorship, because it gives you access into that world. It gives you access to the club. You become a club patron, and all of a sudden, organized crime has this special role in the club. Overseas, there was a lot of work done, and what they actually found was that organized crime was actually using sports to image-wash itself, so that the organized crime identity walks in. They become the sponsor of the club. And all of a sudden, they become this legitimate person who’s this great patron and benefactor of the club. So, we know that organized crime is actually using sport to wash its image and clean its image up.
Know who’s around your club. And that’s the key thing, as well. If people just swan in out of nowhere, start asking questions about who they are. Where have they come from? Just do some background checks on people, and just ask around. Sport is this pretty small world.
Actually, the word would get around quite fast if people actually asked some questions.
The other thing is that we sort of see sub-elite sports as the soft underbelly of sport at the moment. If we know those betting markets, putting an operation in the sport to buy 44 Keeping sport safe, fair and inclusive an athlete would be relatively easy at the sub-elite level in Australian sport, because they don’t cost much. They don’t make a lot of money. They haven’t gone through the integrity training. And so, we actually see sub-elite sports, at this point, as a bit of a soft underbelly.
But we’re also talking about protecting the sub-elite sports as protecting Australian sport for the future, as these athletes work their way through the system, and if they actually make it up to the elite level.
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