Canadian Soccer League Once Again the Subject of Match Fixing Allegations

Written By Janice Doughtrey

The Canadian Soccer League (CSL), a semi-professional soccer league not sanctioned by the Canadian Soccer Association and repeatedly criticized for match fixing issues, is once again the subject of similar accusations in relation to the league’s 2015 Championship Season. The Daily Telegraph has revealed contents of the 31-page report prepared by the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), stating statistics and indications that the Canadian Soccer League last Summer of 2015, appears to have been organized primarily for perpetrating betting fraud by way of match-fixing.

The Telegraph revealed that nearly half (42 %) of the 2015 CSL First Division matches were reported as having shown signs that suspicious betting activities had taken place. Those activities allegedly resulted to fraudulent betting gains estimated at £4.5 million. Accordingly, the ICSS report asserts that the entire and each of the 12 top-flight teams took part in at least three doubtful games this year, to which 60 match results were influenced purportedly by match-fixers. The UK publication conveyed that ICSS went as far as calling the CSL an unprecedented kind of “rogue league.”

Based on the ICSS-prepared, 31-page document entitled the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) 2015, the Telegraph news report revealed that ICSS pinpoints 44 dubious fixtures held from May 10 up to September 07, 2015, with 15 more occurring prior to last weekend’s semi-final play offs. As part of its conclusion, the ICSS report stated that the match fixers have apparently turned greedy by seeking to fix as many game outcomes as possible this 2015. The UK newspaper added that bookmakers, including the leading betting firms that previously offered markets on CSL fixtures, have desisted from including the rogue league’s games.

The sport integrity watchdog has confirmed the Telegraph’s exposition of the ICSS report, albeit explaining that the report was prepared primarily for use of sport investigators and law enforcement authorities. The confirmation was conveyed by way of statement expressing regret that the intelligence report has been made public, but nonetheless emphasized the grave consequences for organized sport and the related sport betting activities, as the ramifications are beyond the sheer collective size of the fraudulent schemes.

ICSS alleges that the corruption of the Canadian Soccer League, entailed wholesale game fixing, wagering fraud and the likelihood of money laundering activities. Copies of the report have been submitted to Canadian national authorities, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as to the Federation of International Football Associations, the Interpol and the Europol. The people possibly involved are linked to European organized crime groups, persons within the league and Asia-based operators of illegal sport-betting units.

In an interview conducted for Inside Sport Magazine, Chris Eaton, the Executive Director for Sport Integrity at ICSS commented he has never encountered suspected game fixing of such magnitude. Mr. Eaton added that they can utter with confidence that every side was corrupted, whether directly or indirectly, denoting that some were unaware that they were involved in perpetuating fixed matches.

Vincent Ursini, Chairman of the Canadian Soccer League said he has not seen the ICSS report, stating that the document has been “sensationalized.” Mr. Ursini maintains that no one at CSL is involved as the league’s focus is in developing Canada’s youth players. He also said that previous allegations linking the CSL to the largest match fixing investigation in Europe, via the admission of a notorious fixer named Ante Sapina, had been dismissed eight months ago.

Regarding comments about the Telegraph’s statement that bookmakers have ceased offering betting markets on CSL competitions, Mr. Ursini retorted they prefer it that way, as keeping gambling out of the league, will likewise mean the absence of fraud issues.