PZPN disciplinary spokesman Adam Gilarski admitted in an interview with PAP that after the corruption scandal, Polish football experienced a kind of catharsis. And maybe that’s why, unlike some countries, there are no problems with manipulating matches in connection with bookmakers.
Recently, on the PZPN website, you gave a statement in which you warn to the teams leaving for winter about the so-called match-fixing, which is setting the course and result of matches. Did you do it under the influence of a specific signal or just in case?
My action was focused on to warn clubs that are going to foreign camps, especially to Cyprus and Turkey, to watch closely on the sparring maches played there. Often these matches are organized “ad hoc”. There are many foreign teams at the same time staying at camps and their organizers sometimes suggest playing a sparring. Unfortunately, there is a situation in which such a match is judged by accidental persons.
So, without the judge’s permits?
Yes. We learn that they are, for example, former footballers without the judge’s permit. What’s more, such meetings are the subject of bookmaker bets in Southeast Asia. Strange things happen during them. In this statement, I pointed out the film report from the 2017 match of Pogoń Szczecin with the Romanian Astra Giurgiu. The players of both teams did not respect the decisions of the judges, especially regarding dictated penalty kicks. They intentionally shot out balls, disagreeing with the fact that these penalties are dictated in very strange circumstances. A similar situation was in the Śląsk Wrocław match with the Slovak Nitra. At that time Marcin Robak did not take advantage of the penalty, simply disobeying the decision of the referee, who was later a suspect by UEFA for setting this match. With UEFA, we get information that this is a very dangerous practice, because it can affect the behavior of the teams themselves, if they are subject to situations when the judges commit similar things. Well, after some time they can, I do not say that they do it themselves, to be influenced by, for example, companies organizing these matches or people involved in illegally betting bookmakers.
Coming back to the Pogoń match – you informed UEFA authorities about it.
Yes. And UEFA in this particular case explained that the match was led by Romanian football referees from lower leagues, who incidentally served as … Bulgarians to mislead suspicions. What were their penalties? UEFA will certainly conduct proceedings in such matters. I do not know the details of this one, but I know that after similar events a number of people have been moved away from the professional football.
Such matches are easier to fix, because they are not the subject of a broader media interest, no television shows them?
Of course. Protocols are not formally made. Nobody checks the permits of these judges, that’s why in my message I paid attention to it. It is important that such matches are recorded by the clubs, for their needs, but also for their good. You should also check the referees’ rights to conduct the competition. Sometimes companies and people who organize preparation camps, offer help to clubs, offer some non-market prices or discounts. I also paid attention to this so that the clubs – by contacting such intermediaries – would check exactly what these proposed prices are related to.
For you, the subject of setting matches, for example in the winter break is not new. Already in February 2015, there was a loud case about the sparring of the Flota Świnoujście. You, after analyzing the materials of the investigation, issued a ban on the representation of the Flota by several people, including two Romanian trainers.
Yes. Then more people were suspended, not only two trainers from Romania. Also a German agent organizing this match. But my ban also included five players, also from Moldova. And they, after the ban was issued, quickly left Poland.
Did you find out about this matter from UEFA?
Yes, because UEFA sends such confidential reports, which are an analysis of bookmakers’ betting on given matches. The meetings in which the Flota participated in Germany and Spain were closely watched by Sportradar, which prepared a detailed report. They showed in it that during the match between the first and the second half, odds in bookmakers’ bets were changing. Unusual bets were made for concrete results and a change in the result. Later, I learned from UEFA that the German police in Bochum had dealt with the case and that traces led to suspicious investors from China. These people later, in 2017-18, tried to take over clubs that had a difficult financial situation, from Portugal and Slovakia. Therefore, it is known that they are larger criminal groups. Recently I came back from Kiev, where a similar problem has already been encountered. At the matches there are observers from Asia who – according to the Ukrainian Federation – try to recognize the situation of clubs and use their financial problems. My duties as so-called UEFA Integrity Officer, to a large extent, boils down to watching what is happening in Poland in this area.