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Before betting on any football match, consult your country’s regulations or contact your local players’ union. That is the warning FIFPro sends to all professional footballers worldwide.

Recent incidents in Belgium, England and Scotland, where players have lost their job or face prosecution, illustrate that there is still too much ignorance among professional footballers about gambling rules.

“Each country, each federation, has its own betting regulations. Some are stricter than others”, says FIFPro’s Tony Higgins, who is also President of the Scottish players union. “Any breach of the regulations can have serious consequences for a player’s career.”

“Professional footballers should take their responsibility and check their country’s regulations. Or even better, avoid betting on any football match. Of course, they can always consult their players’ union for advice.”

“Some players simply don’t see any harm in betting”, adds Stijn Boeykens, secretary of Belgian players union Sporta. “Unfortunately too many players don’t understand the risks of gambling on matches, not even on their own matches, which is forbidden in our country.”

Recent incidents

  • Joey Barton (Rangers) has  been accused by the Scottish Football Association of placing 44 bets between 1 July and 15 September this year. In Scotland, rules prohibit players to bet on all football matches in the world. Barton risks a suspension.
  • Olivier Deschacht (Anderlecht, Belgium) gambled on a match he played in, Anderlecht-Paris Saint-Germain in 2013. According to Deschacht his brother used his old account. Deschacht could be prosecuted.
  • In Belgium Tuur Dierickx (Antwerp FC), Knowledge Musona (KV Oostende) and Laurent Henkinet (Waasland-Beveren) placed bets that their own team would win matches. Henkinet’s contract was immediately terminated by his club. The clubs of Dierickx and Musonda have taken no action so far. All three players risk a fine.
  • In May, Steven Lawless (Partick Thistle, Scotland) was given a six-match ban, with four of those suspended until the end of this season, after being accused of betting on 513 matches.
  • In May, Martin Demichelis (then Manchester City) was fined 22,058 pounds for betting on 29 matches in 2016.

From the FIFPro Code of Conduct on match-fixing:

Be Smart: know the rules

Find out the integrity rules of your international and national federation, team, club, players association, competition and your country’s laws, before the start of each sporting season so that you are aware of your sport’s most recent position, especially regarding betting. Many sports and countries either have or are developing regulations on sports betting and you need to be aware of these – even if you don’t bet.

If you break the rules, you will be caught and risk severe punishments including a potential lifetime ban from your sport and even being subject to a criminal investigation.

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