Lower leagues at risk from matchfixers

EXCLUSIVE: Malaysian-based former Socceroo Scott Ollerenshaw says anti-match fixing measures have worked but he cautions against complacency amidst news of alleged match fixing in Australia’s lower leagues.

On the weekend, news broke that 10 people had been arrested for alleged match-fixing in the Victorian Premier League, one of Australia’s semi-professional leagues below the A-League.

Members of the Purana Task Force and the police's Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit swooped early on Sunday morning to make the arrests.

According to reports, police have charged six men involved in the alleged scam to fix games involving Southern Stars said to be worth around $2 million in betting winnings.

One person arrested was  Malaysian national Gerry Gsubramaniam who had been in Australia for around 10 weeks according to reports.

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.

Former Socceroo Scott Ollerenshaw, who’s based in Malaysia, says match fixers are always looking at lower leagues where the players aren’t paid as well as professionals. 

 “It will always be lurking under the surface so need to keep working hard but we can never say it’s eradicated because once we get complacent it will reoccur,” he told au.fourfourtwo.com.

“I think it shows that it’s much harder to fix games in first division professional leagues around Asia and Australia ... so these guys have been forced to think outside the box by identifying low
profile leagues where detection would be harder.”

“In Malaysia there is money in the game now - local players get paid very well and on time,” added the 18-times capped Socceroo.

“I don’t think the alleged ringleader being Malaysian would prove match fixing is prevalent here or anywhere else in Asia. He just happens to be Asian. If he was African, what does that tell us?"

Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop was widely praised for his swift action in responding to the alleged match-fixing and for having measures in place to root out perpetrators.

“Is it still a threat?  Absolutely . Does it still occur? Possibly, but not on a huge level,” said Ollerenshaw.

During Ollerenshaw’s career in Asia, where he was a star striker in the Malaysian League, he spoke out about match fixing across Asia.

He told FourFourTwo magazine in 2011 that  after he spoke out publicly against match-fixing in the 1990s, the response was immediate and threatening.

“During the infamous match-fixing round up all over Malaysia in ’95, I was very vocal in the press about how disgraceful it was.

“I stressed how it wouldn’t happen in Australia. So, one night, I received a phone call telling me I was a visitor in the country and was advised to keep my mouth shut or else.”