The Polish Football Federation (PZPN) has released its new disciplinary regulations which forbid federation and club officials, players, managers, referees, and even employees such as medical staff members, from betting on any football matches.
The latest move is related to the PZPN’s ongoing efforts to thwart what it describes as a rising wave of match-fixing by international criminal groups who earn substantial winnings from bets.
Adam Gilarski, the head disciplinary official of the PZPN, said in a recent interview with local sports news site Weszlo.com that the ban relates to players from all the tiers of the Polish football league. This means the restrictions will be applied regardless of whether they are professional or even amateur footballers.
“Yes, this ban covers all the people of Polish football who fall under the supervision of the Polish Football Federation and the Disciplinary Rules … within all tiers,” Gilarski said, adding that “if you take part in the games, you must resign” from placing bets on football matches.
The official said that the ban also applies to bets placed on matches that are played abroad, not just in Poland.
Revised disciplinary rules now state that violations of the ban on betting on football matches can result in a fine of at least PLN1,000 (€231), suspension or cancellation of a PZPN licence granted to an individual, removal from the federation’s lists of referees, observers or delegates, temporary suspension from participation in PZPN activities, and even expulsion from the PZPN.
The latter sanction would mean that the punished individual would no longer be able to take part in organised football activities in Poland.
In late 2022, the federation announced that it was cooperating with the country’s law enforcement and continues to submit data on football matches, which are believed to be tampered with by foreign criminals to Polish law enforcement, and asking prosecutors to launch investigations.
“Since the final phase of the 2021/2022 season, the Polish Football Association has observed an increase in the activities of international criminal groups which attempt to illegally gain control over the course of football matches … which are the subject of bets, in particular in the lower ties” of Poland’s professional football league, the federation said.
“The reports we have received during the 2022/2023 season from the Sportradar Universal Fraud Detection System (UFDS) confirm the interest in the matches played by Polish teams, in particular in the Third League, by persons who place bets, in particular in Asia,” according to the PZPN.
The federation decided to extend the scope of its cooperation with Sportradar, starting with the 2022/2023 season. The sports technology company currently monitors the matches played by clubs from Poland’s Second League, Third League, and the Central Juniors’ League.
Under Article 46 of the Polish Act on Sport, individuals who accept benefits in exchange for engaging in unfair behaviour that may impact the results of a sports competition could result in a sentence of between six months and eight years in prison.
Additionally, the law states that placing bets while possessing knowledge of such an illegal activity can result in a sentence of between three months and five years in prison.
Elsewhere in Europe and Latin America, football integrity has become a hot topic as of late, after the high-profile betting breach cases surrounding key Premier League footballers Sandro Tonali and Ivan Toney as well as a a high-profile match-fixing investigation in Brazil.