Shortly after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal on 12 November 2016, several betting operators (among them, in particular, FIFA’s current integrity partner, Sportradar) made FIFA aware that the result of the match may have been influenced due to irregular and suspicious live betting activities that had occurred. The FIFA Integrity Department carried out a thorough preliminary investigation, resulting in the opening of disciplinary proceedings against the referee, Lamptey. On 15 March 2017, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee imposed a lifetime ban on Lamptey for having breached art. 69 par. 1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (unlawfully influencing match results). This decision was confirmed by the FIFA Appeal Committee on 27 April 2017, and the matter was then appealed before CAS which, on 2 August 2017, confirmed in full the decision passed by the FIFA Appeal Committee. CAS’s motivated arbitral award was notified to the parties on 4 December 2017.
Irregular betting activity
- When ruling on the case, CAS took into particular consideration that shortly after the match, five different and internationally renowned betting monitoring companies (among them, in particular, FIFA’s current integrity partner, Sportradar) spontaneously, independently and simultaneously reported to FIFA that irregular betting activities had taken place during the Match, all of which were indicative of match manipulation.
- All reports concluded – and this was never disputed by Lamptey – that during the first half of the match, there were movements of betting activities for the “overs” (a given total number of goals being scored) on the so-called “totals” live market that significantly deviated from the usual, mathematically calculated market developments. Therefore, all five betting operators deemed the betting activities witnessed during the match to be highly irregular and indicative of match manipulation, concluding that bettors held prior knowledge of the total number of goals that would be scored during the match.
- In this sense, CAS found that the deviation witnessed during the match from the expected and ordinary movement of the odds in the totals live market which contradicted the mathematical calculated odds models clearly demonstrated that bettors were in possession of information that the mathematical model did not have, and were confident that at least two goals would be scored in the match irrespective of the time that had elapsed.
- In addition to the suspicious betting activities, sporting analysis of the match was conducted. From a refereeing point of view, the analysis confirmed that Lamptey clearly took two wrong decisions, which led to two goals being scored by South Africa at the end of the first half. In this regard, CAS concluded that it was clear that the wrong on-field decisions had been directly taken by Lamptey.
- The sporting analysis of the technical performance of the teams found that the match was generally uneventful (only one goal scoring opportunity before the first goal), which led the FIFA judicial bodies to conclude that none of the teams was involved in the manipulation of the result of the match. Lamptey has never disputed this. – Connection between the irregular betting activity and the sporting analysis
- Suspicious betting activities reached their climax precisely when Lamptey took the incorrect refereeing decisions between the 40th minute and the end of the first half. CAS found it significant that the match had been uneventful up to the moment when Lamptey took the wrong decisions, that the deviation from the ordinary betting pattern occurred prior to those decisions, and that when the second goal of the match was scored, the market appeared to be satisfied, causing the live betting odds to return to the expected figures, because the expectations of at least two goals had been fully met.
- As a result, it was concluded that Lamptey had intentionally taken two wrong decisions with the sole purpose of enabling a specific number of goals to be scored that would make the pertinent bets successful. CAS concluded that there was an obvious link between the wrong decisions and the deviation from the expected betting pattern and consequently found Lamptey guilty of having unlawfully influenced the result of the match.
- CAS had no doubt that the infringement at stake was a serious one, and considered it essential that sporting regulators demonstrate zero tolerance against all kinds of activities intended to influence the result of a match in a manner contrary to sporting ethics, and to impose sanctions sufficient to serve as an effective deterrent to people who might be tempted to consider involvement in such activities. Therefore, CAS found a lifetime ban from any football-related activities against the referee to be proportionate.
Lamptey was not sanctioned due to an innocent mistake in his refereeing decisions or due to a poor performance. He was sanctioned because he was found guilty of taking intentional decisions with the sole purpose of facilitating a minimum number of goals in order to make certain bets successful, which is a direct and clear violation of art. 69 par. 1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
In its ruling, CAS concluded that Lamptey had intentionally taken two wrong decisions with the sole purpose of enabling a specific number of goals to be scored that would make pertinent bets successful. CAS concluded that there was an obvious link between these intentionally wrong decisions and a deviation from an expected betting pattern and consequently found Lamptey guilty of having unlawfully influenced the result of the match.
This CAS decision underlines FIFA’s commitment to protecting the integrity of football and its zero-tolerance policy on match manipulation, while also highlighting the effectiveness of its current agreement with Sportradar that uses their Fraud Detection System, which played an important role in this case.
FIFA’s judicial bodies had banned Lamptey for life for breaching art. 69 par 1 (unlawfully influencing match results) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal on 12 November 2016.