A potential match-fixing scandal is rocking the Canadian Soccer League, and a match involving SC Waterloo is at the centre of the latest allegations.
The game between SC Waterloo and Niagara United, which happened on October 4th, 2015, was called off in the 65th minute after a series of incredulous circumstances.
A Vice Sports report quotes several of Niagara’s players as accusing Waterloo of intentionally throwing the game, going as far as allowing Niagara to score on them, and then preventing Niagara’s players from scoring on their own net in an attempt to spoil the alleged fix.
“We don’t want to give them their money, forget it,” United midfielder John Bahdi told the outlet.
“The ball goes out for a goal kick, our keeper quickly plays it to our right back and basically tells him, ‘Put it in our net, shoot on our net, put it in our own net.’ Our right back goes to put it in our own net, by the time he got to shoot it, they had three guys on our goal line and the ball gets kicked off our goal line.”
LISTEN: Former Niagara United coach James McGillivray speaks with 570 News
Niagara’s then-coach, James McGillivray, protested to the league after the game.
“I said to the CSL, ‘this is obvious and blatant that this team is trying to manipulate the score.’ I’m not saying that they were throwing the game; I’m not saying that they were betting on the game, but they were manipulating the score for some reason […] and I highly suggested that Waterloo be suspended out of the league,” McGillivray tells 570 News.
SC Waterloo has not responded to multiple requests for comment from 570 News.
The allegations are the latest thorn in the side of the 12-team Canadian Soccer League, which has been plagued by alleged match-fixing since 2009.
At the time, a match between Trois-Rivières and Toronto Croatia raised flags and was eventually brought up in German court in 2011.
More recently, a report by the International Centre for Sport Security, which was leaked to the Telegraph, found nearly half of all of the CSL’s matches in the past season showed suspicious betting activity.
“ICSS has been engaging for some time with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to share information, which involves serious allegations of wholesale match-fixing, betting fraud and quite possibly money laundering within the Canadian Soccer League,” the ICSS wrote in a subsequent release.
“In all likelihood the alleged corruption of the Canadian Soccer League has been led by organised crime groups based in Europe involving a complex network of individuals within the league and most likely Asian-based illegal sport betting operators.”
“This is a worldwide problem, as you may be aware,” CSL spokesperson Stan Adamson tells 570 News.
“It’s a very difficult situation for leagues such as the Canadian Soccer League, and unfortunately, it provides a stigma and casts a shadow over the entire league — and unfairly,” says Adamson. “We have been contacted in the past by the OPP, and in recent times, by the RCMP. Certainly, there’s been some discussion, and there’s an open file on this.”
In the wake of allegations, the Canadian Soccer League has announced new measures to detect and deter further suspicious activity during its games.
In a news release this week, the CSL stated it will be assigning ‘match observers’ to all games played in 2016 — as Adamson describes to 570 News, “an ex-referee or some such individual who is very familiar with the game looking closely for things within the game that would suggest there’s something going on.”
In the same release, the league announced it’s “considering working with an organization that monitors betting data from sports events.”
“I want the CSL to be cleaned up so it becomes a legitimate league again,” McGillivray, who has since walked away from the league, tells 570 News.
“Not to get it closed down [or] throw all these foreign players out of the country, but to legitimize the CSL, because there’s a need for it in this country.”