Australian Football League Umpire Arrested Over Suspicious Betting on Fair Play Award
An Australian Football League (AFL) umpire is among four people arrested for possible corruption, ironically in relation to an award designed to honor fair play and sportsmanship.
The AFL is the professional league for Australian rules football. Its Brownlow Medal is the most prestigious award in the sport, judged on the criteria of the “fairest and best” player across a season, as chosen by umpires.
This year’s Brownlow was won by Carlton FC’s Patrick Cripps. But according to the Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, something fishy may have been going on.
The AFL confirmed to 7News that it was contacted by a betting agency partner shortly after the ceremony concluded. That partner, the AFL said, flagged suspicious betting patterns for the Brownlow market, prompting the AFL integrity unit to gather further information and to contact Victoria police.
Investigators raided multiple Melbourne residences on Monday, seizing mobile phones and other electronic items during the arrests.
The AFL acknowledged in a statement that one of those detained was an umpire whose name has not been publicized. The league said there was no evidence that the judging process had been corrupted, merely that information on the winner may have been leaked before the awards ceremony.
The judging process involves three field umpires conferring after each match of the season to vote on the best, second-best, and third-best players. These votes are tallied on the awards night, with the highest point-scorer receiving the medal.
“It’s alleged that a person with knowledge of the voting tally of these matches distributed the information to a group of people known to them,” the AFC said in a statement. “Police are investigating how many matches may have had votes released, and exactly how much money was awarded from the bets.”
Commander Deb Robertson is appealing to the public for help.
“Victorians are well known for their love of AFL and, in particular, the prestigious Brownlow Medal award, but equally they want to know that there is integrity, fairness, and honesty behind this award,” she said. “We have been working with the AFL and Sport Integrity Australia in relation to these matters, and we will continue to work together to target, disrupt, and apprehend people who commit these offenses.”
Robertson added that public assistance plays a key part in ensuring that awards like the Brownlow are determined fairly and without undue influence. “We know there are people out there involved in sport who see or hear things they know are not right, and we need them to speak up,” she said.
In the US, to guard against betting fraud, most regulators prohibit bets on events that could potentially be manipulated by individuals. This includes awards ceremonies, where the outcome is known in advance, albeit by a select few. Notably, New Jersey has made an exception for the Oscars.
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