FFA chief David Gallop says the 10 people arrested for alleged match-fixing are potentially facing worldwide lifetime bans.
In a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Gallop confirmed that nine players and a coach from VPL side Southern Stars – a team based in Melbourne’s south-east – had been arrested by Victorian police earlier on Sunday following an investigation into match-fixing.
The arrests were made after FFA received data on suspicious betting patterns involving the Southern Stars last month, with Gallop saying the association immediately contacted Victorian police.
And, in what may be the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit Australian sport so far, members of the Purana Task Force and the police’s Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit swooped early on Sunday morning as they busted the alleged ring by making 10 arrests.
According to police media, the majority of the players arrested were from the United Kingdom.
“Integrity measures put in place by football have been effective in detecting this activity,” Gallop told reporters.
“Nine players and a coach are now likely to face the courts.
“From the FFA’s point of view we’ll initiate proceedings under our own codes of conduct.
“You can be sure that we will throw the book at them.
“That means life bans on a worldwide basis.”
According to the police, those arrested are expected to face match fixing charges, which can attract a maximum 10-year jail term.
Gallop confirmed that much of the money betted on Southern Stars matches originated from overseas, with police media saying more than $2 million dollars of estimated betting winnings have been connected with the team.
“We were tipped off by our monitoring service, Sportsradar,” Gallop added.
“They scrutinise betting patterns across Australian football and a number of other sports and they brought this issue to our attention.
“It (Sportsradar’s scrutiny) goes down into any matches that are able to be bet on.
“Probably fair to say that this highlights the fact that lower league
games, which aren’t under the scrutiny of things like a global television broadcast, are potentially more susceptible to this kind of activity.
“(But) at this stage the police have indicated to us that they are looking at an isolated issue in Victoria and we need to be guided by the police in that regard.”
The arrests are just another chapter in a poor year for Australian sport in terms of being connected with crime.
In February the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) released their Drugs in Sport report detailing how the use of performance-enhancing substances by players in various codes could make them vulnerable to being targeted by crime organisations keen to fix matches.
At that stage, the ACC revealed that AFL and NRL were the only codes being investigated.
Gallop, though, refused to say whether he felt football was more vulnerable to this, given the global nature of the game and the fact that many of the people arrested were from the UK.
“This is a reminder to everyone in Australian sport that we need to stay vigilant,” Gallop said.
“It’s difficult to say what sports are more susceptible than others but clearly football is a worldwide game.
“It’s clearly distressing for everyone in Australian sport.
“We’ve known that this threat exists.
“What we can say is that the detection measures that we’ve had in place have worked and that is a sign that we’re working in the right direction but we’ve got to stay vigilant.”