ZIMBABWE talismanic forward Knowledge Musona has received the backing of his club KV Oostende after he was sucked in a gambling storm in which he is alleged to have placed bets on some matches in the country’s league. The 26-year-old striker, whose goals helped the Warriors qualify for the 2016 Nations Cup finals after a 10-year absence from the continent’s biggest football showcase, was one of the players named in the gambling case in which about five players in the Belgian top-flight league placed bets on matches in that country.
The case has whipped a media frenzy, including unsubstantiated claims on social media and other unregulated sites, that Musona placed bets on matches that involved his team, or in games in which he was playing, which would be a more serious case in terms of the dangers that such a conduct places on the integrity of the results of matches.
His club KV Oostende said yesterday that, as of now, there was no evidence that Musona had placed bets in matches which he played and, after talking to the player when he notified them of the case, they were satisfied that he needed to be supported.
Musona has started the new Belgium Juliper League with a bang, and is one of the leading scorers in the campaign, with his latest goal coming at the weekend when he lashed home a penalty in a losing cause for his club. KV Oostende expect, at worst, that Musona could be fined by the country’s Gambling Commission.
The Belgian club said, unlike the other players who were mentioned, Musona was quick to notify them that he had been placing some bets on matches in the country unaware that he was flouting the rules and regulations that bar football players from such conduct as part of measures adopted to preserve the integrity of the game.
KV Oostende said Musona “acted correctly” throughout the saga after he was interviewed by officials from the country’s Gambling Commission and quickly notified his club. “Musona has, indeed, been investigated and he reported it immediately to the club,” KV Oostende spokesman Bram Keirsebilck told the Belgian media yesterday. “He has acted correctly.
“Since then (the Gambling Commission haven’t) notified the player nor the club about the matter. Whether he (gambled) on our own games, I do not know.” Keirsebick said last season the club gave their players documents which clearly stated that, according to the laws of the country it was not allowed for footballers to place bets on the matches in their league.
One of the players named in the saga, Waasland-Beveren goalkeeper Laurent Henkinet, has already given a report to the police. “The club has taken note of the facts surrounding the allegations relative to Laurent Henkinet,” Waasland-Beveren said in a statement released on Monday.
“The player explained to the chairman and sports manager his version of the story. “He also gave the club a copy of the police report that was drawn up. Currently that file is in the hands of the management and the Waasland-Beveren lawyers. “Until the time that they have taken note of the complete file, the club cannot give any further explanation.
“Henkinet realises, however, that he made a mistake by not immediately notifying the club. He thought, as it had been reported to him, that the case had been dropped.” According to a Belgian newspaper, it was likely that the pair would be fined by the country’s Gambling Commission.
The other player named in the saga, Olivier Deschacht, is still being investigated by the Gambling Commission in Belgium. Gambling in Belgium is conducted under the 2009 Gambling Act which has barred some betting companies from operating in the country for the sake of protecting its citizens, from being sucked into gambling habits, and also protecting the integrity of professional sport in that country.
In England, the Football Association’s betting rules apply to the top eight tiers of English football and bars players, managers, club employees and match officials from betting on any football game worldwide.
However, a number of players have been caught off-side, in recent years, given that gambling is popular among the footballers. Last month former Glasgow Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty was fined £23 000 and received a stern reprimand after accepting he was guilty of flouting regulations barring players from placing bets on football matches.
The Norwich City forward breached Rule E8 of the Association’s Betting Rules on February 20, 2016, by placing a bet “on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, a football match or competition”.
Lafferty played for Northern Ireland at Euro 2016.
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal and England), June 2012
Jack Wilshere was warned by Uefa after comments he made on Twitter suggesting he had bet on an Arsenal team-mate to score. Uefa regulations forbid players from gambling on football matches in which their teams are involved.
Wilshere, now on loan at Bournemouth, said on Twitter that Arsenal team-mate Emmanuel Frimpong was “worth a cheeky £10” to be the first scorer at long odds in the Champions League match against Olympiakos in December.
Wilshere, who missed last season with an ankle injury, then said after a near-miss by Frimpong: “Frimmy nearly won me some money there!” He later insisted that he had been joking, tweeting: “I didn’t actually bet on the game. I know we’re not allowed to! I was only messing just to be clear.”
Dan Gosling, March 2016
Midfielder Dan Gosling was fined £30 000 by the Football Association for breaching betting rules. Gosling, 24, had admitted a misconduct charge on 10 March following “multiple breaches” of the rules.
Gosling, 26, told SunSport: “I placed a bet on a Premier League game when I was on loan at Blackpool in the Championship, but I was still officially at Newcastle. So it was a mistake and a bit of a misunderstanding, but it was probably a good thing it happened to me because it nipped it in the bud.
“If I hadn’t got caught, you never know where it would have led — there are a lot of footballers who have had problems. “I wouldn’t say I was addicted to gambling but the fine, in a way, was a positive thing for me.”
Cameroon Jerome (Norwich City, England)
Cameron Jerome was fined £50 000 for breaking Football Association betting rules. The striker, 27, admitted repeatedly breaching the regulations. But the charge was not related to match-fixing or betting on games he was involved in and he has the right to appeal against the sanction.
Andros Townsend was ordered to serve a one-month ban for breaching Football Association betting rules.
Martin Demichelis, May 2016
The Argentine defender, then playing for Manchester City, was fined £22 058 after accepting a charge of misconduct in relation to betting.
Players are also banned from knowingly providing inside information to any other person for the purpose of betting, and from promoting betting activity. Demichelis told ESPN Sport he understood that the rules were not the same in all leagues.
“Things are different in each place,” he said. “In Spain, this is allowed (betting on matches outside of one’s own), or it was just prohibited. But once I can get informed with the lawyers I will speak with much more certainty than at this moment. I have no problem telling the truth, I am not one to hide.”