It’s not been a good week or so for those that enjoy a dollop of integrity with their sporting action.
Horse racing’s name has been dragged through the mud not once but twice; with former champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa hit with a lengthy ban over a betting rule breach and a rather sinister race at Gowran Park leading to fines for those who ‘permitted a horse to run other than on its merits.’
Meanwhile, the corruption scandal engulfing Brazilian football took another turn this week as more players were indicted in a federal investigation – more than a dozen have now been accused of deliberately getting sent off, booked or giving corners away in each game for cash payments from illegal betting rings.
Like I say, not a great week for sporting integrity….
De Sousa Banned for Ten Months
Although no evidence of manipulating the result has been found, De Sousa has been sanctioned with a ten-month suspension in Hong Kong after ‘facilitating’ an opportunity for fellow jockey Vagner Borges to bet on a race they both rode in at Happy Valley in April.
Neither of the Brazilians went on to win the race, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) is satisfied that both men rode their mounts to the best of their abilities, but all riders know that they are not allowed to bet on their chosen sport.
That’s confirmed by Rule of Racing 59 (3) of the HKJC charter, which reveals that ‘no jockey shall bet, or facilitate the making of a bet, or have any interest in a bet, on any race or any contingency relating to a race meeting.’
It’s thought that De Sousa will now look to get a ride or two in the UK this summer, which as a former three-time champion jockey on the Flat he should have no problem doing. Although his bank manager won’t be happy; the Brazilian would earn around ten times less from British racing than he does in Hong Kong.
Byrnes Fined After Bizarre Gowran Park Runout
Charles Byrnes has been fined more than £5,000 and had one of his horses banned from running after a curious ride at Gowran Park.
Ellaat took to the line in the handicap race earlier this week with claimer Gearoid Brouder in the saddle, but even so he was a warm 3/1 favourite with the bookies.
But a mysterious run, in which the horse was allowed to travel from one side of the track to the other without intervention from Brouder, caused stewards to report horse and jockey for further investigation.
Brouder explained he had been given tactics by Byrnes to let the horse settle, and claimed that his mount was ‘weary’ – despite Ellaat running on after the finishing line.
A post-race veterinary inspection confirmed that the horse was in fine health, and so both Byrnes and Brouder were found to have breached the Turf Club’s Rule 212A(i): ‘the running and/or riding of a horse in a race, who deliberately or recklessly causes or permitted a horse to run other than on its merits.’
Byrnes was fined, Brouder was suspended for 21 days and Ellaat, curiously, was banned from racing for 90 days. There is no suggestion that the poor run was anything to do with race-rigging or corruption.
Brazilian Football Plunged Into Spot-Fixing Scandal
At least seven professional footballers in Brazil – including those playing in the Serie A top-tier – have been accused of involvement in a spot-fixing scam.
The alleged payments include bribing one player with £80,000 in cash to get sent off, while others allegedly picked up around £10,000 for getting booked or deliberately giving away corners.
All told, 16 people – including seven players – have been charged with various fraud offences by Brazil’s Public Ministry in a case that has gone to the very top echelons of federal investigation in the country.
Brazil only legalised sports betting in 2018, and it’s thought that this could be the biggest case involving a match-fixing gang so far given that some big clubs – including Santos and Fluminense – have been implicated in it due to the alleged actions of one or more of their players.
Eduardo Bauermann, Gabriel Tota and Paulo Miranda are just three of the players that have been named in charging documents so far. Max Alves, now of Colorado Rapids in the MLS, has also been outed by the media.