Betting on football is a popular pastime among Aussies. The Football Federation Australia (FFA) has no problem with punters adding a little interest in the sport. But if those punters happen to be FFA athletes, that’s a whole other matter.
According to FIFA regulations, no active member of the league can take part in betting on football. This includes everyone from registered players, to coaches, referees and club officials. Doing so threatens to undermine the integrity of the games, and is supposed to be worthy of hefty penalties for anyone found in violation.
Unfortunately, hefty penalties are few and far between. This week, reports surfaced that yet another FFA athlete was caught betting on football. As usual, the player’s name has not been released. A statement from the FAA reads:
“FFA has determined to impose a sanction of a $1,000 suspended fine, which will be triggered immediately in the event of another breach of the Code of Conduct.
“The participant has a right of appeal under the Code of Conduct to FFA’s independent Disciplinary and Ethics Committee.”
Wrist Slap for Betting on Football
So the player was given a fine of $1,000, but doesn’t have to pay it. The fine is only invoked if the athlete is found to be in violation of the FFA Code of Conduct again.
I don’t suspect the culprit will be appealing the suspended fine. Why appeal a slap on the wrist? To make matters worse, this is the exact same penalty the FFA has been handing out to those caught betting on football for the last few years.
The exact same $1,000 suspended fine was handed to another unnamed player in February for committing the same violation. In April 2015, two players and a coach from WA received the same wrist slap for similar behavior.
Back in 2016, a heftier penalty was imposed on an athlete from the Tasmania National Premier League when it was discovered he was betting on football matches involving his own team. That time, a $2,000 fine and 2-match suspension was ordered.
David Gallop, CEO of the FFA, seems to think the organization is taking a tough stance on the matter of restricted betting. In previous comments, he remarked on the FFA’s strict Code of Conduct.
“Under FIFA’s statutes, registered players, coaches, referees and club officials are not allowed to bet on football matches anywhere. The FFA National Code of Conduct reflects the FIFA statutes,” said Gallop.
“The integrity of football matches at all levels is paramount. Betting on matches is a legal activity, but it must have the safeguards of thorough regulation,” he explained. “FFA is committed to ensuring its regulations are upheld as part of its overall integrity measures.”
But is threatening an athlete who’s already breached the code with a fine if they do it again really “ensuring its regulations are upheld”? It’s comparable to telling a child not to stick their hand in the cookie jar again without asking, or they won’t get any dessert after dinner.
These aren’t children. They are grown athletes who know very well that betting on football is a breach of their contract. If the punishments aren’t swift and heavy-handed, it’s only going to escalate, undermining the legitimacy of the games for Australians who have every right to be betting on football.