Sep 4 2013, 3:44am CDT | by IANS
Last year Edith Schippers, Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, commissioned an investigation by a joint team from the University of Tilburg, the VU University of Amsterdam and accountant firm Ernst and Young to investigate whether and on what scale so-called match fixing, manipulating sports matches for money, in the Netherlands takes place, reports Xinhua.
The Ministry of Health presented the research Tuesday and the conclusion of the inquiry was: "Yes, match fixing also occurs in the Netherlands, but as far as the information gathered stretches, it does not occur structurally and it is not widespread."
A total of 732 (former) athletes completed a questionnaire, of which 27 percent stated that match fixing occurs. Eight percent of the athletes know people approached to fix matches, while four percent were approached to participate in illegal practices themselves.
The respondents were athletes active in football, tennis, basketball, boxing and horse-racing. In addition, the committee also received information from sports associations and authorities.
Manipulating matches by match fixers, often on behalf of the illegal gambling industry, is difficult to prove, stated the commission. Useful reports of active competition distortions by people with firsthand information are rare, the research shows.
Even manipulation in suspected matches could not be proven. The commission did not mention the names of suspected clubs and players. The researchers have advised players who have concrete information to report to the police.
The report does some recommendations for prevention, detection and treatment of competition distortions. One of the recommendations is that club directors in strategic positions must submit a Certificate of Good Conduct, which could also apply to agents of athletes.
Gijs de Jong, competition manager of the Dutch football association KNVB, said in a comment: "For some time we used to say that no competition is immune to match fixing. This is now underlined by the research. Previous research has shown that high profits, low probability of detection and relatively low punishments are a dangerous cocktail. A serious threat to sports."
The outcome of the report comes one week after the German prosecutor Andreas Bachmann, located in Bochum, engaged in tackling match fixing for many years, revealed that in 2009 four games in Dutch football league were manipulated.
According to Bachmann in subsequent years Dutch clubs were at an disadvantage in three manipulated international matches, for example because the referee was bribed. Bachmann did not mention which matches were fixed.
In February this year, The Hague based European investigative organisation Europol revealed an extensive criminal network involved in widespread football match-fixing with a total of 425 match officials, club officials, players, and criminals, from more than 15 countries, also five Dutch people, suspected of being involved in attempts to fix more than 380 professional soccer matches.
The question now is if the new outcome is enough to start a criminal inquiry on match fixing in the Netherlands. Some MP's have put political pressure on the government to start such an inquiry for years, but so far without results because the public prosecutor claimed to have no evidence.
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