WA amateur player falls foul of FFA’s gambling guidelines

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Football Federation Australia (FFA) has given park footballers a timely reminder about its betting guidelines by sanctioning an amateur player in Western Australia.

The player is alleged to have placed bets on games involving A-League teams and the Socceroos, an act which contravenes the National Code of Conduct that all players, coaches and team officials agree to abide by when they register with FFA for the football season.

A message to amateur players was posted on a popular WA based Facebook page last night to draw attention to the FFA’s National Code of Conduct which states that a member must not engage in any football related gambling activity.

The severity of the sanction is yet to be determined but with most local clubs getting their preseason underway, there’s no better time to take stock of what is and isn’t allowed.

According to the Sports Betting and Match Fixing Guidelines published on FFA’s website, registered players cannot bet on any match involving themselves or their team.

While that may go without saying for most, the rules get a bit murkier with the line that “Betting on other games within football is also prohibited”.

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What that means, in simple terms, is that if you plan on playing Saturday or Sunday football in 2017 you cannot bet on Manchester United to beat Liverpool when they meet in the English Premier League this coming weekend.

FFA justifies its stance by stating that local footballers may be “in the know” when it comes to information which could give an unfair advantage when putting down a wager.

“You are likely to know and/or be friends with many other people involved in football in Australia and overseas and this may create concerns as to whether you have been privy to any confidential or sensitive information. Occasionally, through your contacts, you may become privy to or potentially disclose sensitive or confidential information and the recipient may naively use that information for the purposes of betting. This is strictly prohibited. Accordingly, you should act with caution in dealing with such confidential or sensitive information.”

FFA also encourages individuals to whistle blow should they suspect that a registered player is engaging in football gambling practices.

“If you have reason to suspect someone is acting in an inappropriate manner, then trust your instinct and tell someone – either your club, Member Federation or FFA. It is also important to keep a record of this communications. Any threats should always be reported.”

Despite the fact that FFA’s document is dated January 2013, awareness of its scope isn’t widespread within the WA local football community, with comments on the previously mentioned Facebook group page expressing annoyance and surprise at this week’s news.

This isn’t the first instance of a player’s betting practices being called into question by FFA.

In June 2015, former Socceroo Robbie Hooker was sanctioned for having a flutter on A-League matches while he was registered as a player in an over 35’s league.

Hooker was hit with a $1000 suspended fine after his name landed on FFA’s desk through Sportsradar, a company employed by the governing body to keep an eye on registered players and their gambling habits.

Meanwhile, a player registered in the Tasmanian National Premier League (NPL) was given a two-match suspension and a $2000 fine just last year for betting on matches involving his own side.

At the time, FFA CEO David Gallop reinforced the governing body’s stance on gambling.

“The integrity of football is important and under FIFA statutes registered players, coaches, referees and club officials are not allowed to bet on football matches anywhere in the world,” he said.

“These statutes do not differentiate between placing bets on your own local club or an overseas professional team but there’s a much higher integrity risk when bets are placed on matches where the participant has a direct connection.”

Sports betting company TAB was previously an official partner of FFA, while Fox Sports regularly promotes SportsBet odds during its coverage of the domestic game.

With the State and Amateur seasons on the horizon, now would be the perfect time for FFA to take a proactive approach in terms of raising awareness with clubs and players regarding the seriousness of betting on football matches.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.