Home Canadian Soccer Match-fixing expert Declan Hill invites CSL, CSA to seek him out

Match-fixing expert Declan Hill invites CSL, CSA to seek him out

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The Bochum trial is over. So now, the path is clear for the Canadian Soccer Association to begin its investigation of alleged match-fixing in the CSL.

And Declan Hill, author of The Fix and the man who has consulted UEFA and International Olympic Committee on how to stop the cheats, has offered to help.

In an interview Thursday, Hill told The 11 that he welcomes the CSA or the CSL to call him to help with the inquiry — and that there is no excuse for delays.

“Right now, innocent or guilty, there is a dark cloud hanging over Canadian soccer,” said Hill. “A court has identified a game that it considers suspicious. Done. Let’s get the investigation started. I am not talking about making arrests. I’m not saying that someone is guilty or innocent. But the investigation has to start right away.”

Last week, CSL chairman Vincent Ursini said a Canadian Soccer Association probe into allegations that the Trois-Rivieres Attak’s Sept. 12, 2009, 4-1 win over Toronto Croatia was rigged would wait until the German court case “completed its findings.”

On Thursday, the trial of Croat Ante Sapina and his cohorts in a match-fixing rink concluded in Bochum, Germany. Sapina, the ringleader, got a five-and-a-half year sentence for manipulating games.

Hill said it was time for Canadian investigators to stop dragging their feet.

“Where are your balls?” he said.

Included in Sapina’s admitted fixed matches was the game between what was the Montreal Impact’s farm team at the time and Toronto Croatia. As well, a Euro 2008 qualifier between Malta and Norway, which Malta lost 4-0, was also on the list. Maltese officials are looking into allegations about that game, in which current NASL leading scorer Etienne Barbara — who has already scored nine goals and set a new Carolina RailHawks record for goals in a season — came in as a late sub.

According to Hill, no league is too small for match fixers.

“People often make the mistake and think, ‘this league is so small, there are only a few hundred fans,” said Hill. “But the game is on the betting lines. And if a match is on the betting line, it’s worth fixing. I am not saying the (CSL) is fixed or not, but for a league like that, it’s a good business model for an owner. I am not saying that it’s the right moral model, but it’s an easy way to make money.”

The 11 has contacted both the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC, who have Academy sides in the CSL, for comment. Neither has responded to this point.

Neither the TFC Academy nor the Impact Academy have done anything to suggest that they would have any hand in fixing matches.

But, remember that, when dealing with minors, the teams have one massive priority. And it’s not to make sure that the teens make quicker passes or get more of their shots on target. They have to remember that job No. 1 is to look after the best interests of what society still sees as kids. They are the guardians of young people. And, like Hill said, there is a dark cloud hanging over this league.

And to have these kids playing in a league in which convicted members of a Croat mob claims they influenced is a much deeper problem than wins and losses.

Again, being a great soccer program is one thing. It’s another thing to be a responsible organization that looks after the best interests of, well, teens. TFC and the Impact will be applauded for doing the former, but they MUST do the latter.

It is imperative that TFC and the Impact not give the CSL too much time. If this issue can’t be resolved, if the public isn’t satisfied that the CSL is clean, then the two major pro teams can’t allow teens to continue there.

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