Doubts cast over Bolivian and Peruvian football amid betting corruption allegations

Doubts cast over Bolivian and Peruvian football amid betting corruption allegations

Developments in Bolivia are seemingly being mirrored in Peru, where accusations of a ‘sports betting mafia’ are circulating around the country’s professional football scene.

The Association of Professional Footballers of Peru (Safap) asked the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) earlier this week to commit to an in depth investigation into Liga 1 match performances. 

This followed the Academia Cantolao becoming aware of possible betting corruption by its players, whilst Safap President, Roberto Silva Pró, has publicly spoken of a case involving a player being threatened with a firearm.

In its own statement Safap outlined: “At Safap we have been carrying out a campaign (not only internally, but also in the media) with our members regarding match-fixing and sports betting for some time. They are aware of the consequences of participating in these types of activities. They know they can get them out of the football system forever.”

There has been no official comment form the FPF regarding the accusations, but there have been calls for the 2023 Betsson League 1 to be suspended until an official investigation has been concluded.

Meanwhile, reports have also been corroborated by Peruvian football players, notably Colombian midfielder Mario Tajima, who plays for the aforementioned Academia Cantolao, and former pro player Víctor Rossel.

Tajima remarked: “In Peruvian football it is known that this is a mafia that has been happening for a long time. It is not my place to point out or sanction or mention names, but it is time for a change. 

“I hope what happened in Bolivia doesn’t happen to us. It’s not just the players. There are people from other places who are responsible.”

The Peruvian news comes shortly after the Bolivian Football Federation (FBF) called up Nacional de Potosí goalkeeper Saidt Mustafá, professional referee Gaad Flores and President of Club Deportivo Vaca Díez, Marcos Rodriguez to testify about alleged corruption.

In the aftermath of the accusations, 14 of the 16 teams in the Bolivian Primera División have voiced support for the cancellation of football tournaments and the suspension of the Referee’s Committee.

Back in Peru, Safap President Rodrigueuz continued: “Mario Tajima’s comment is worrying because this is a business that has existed for a long time. What I want people to understand is that this is not an issue with the players, but with a system that has been attacking for a long time. 

“The soccer player in the world of betting is just the tip of the inverted pyramid that exists in the general world of sports. There are investigations and sanctions worldwide. INTERPOL has even intervened to see how it can banish this type of situation.”

The story of sports betting in Latin America has been mixed of late, with the launch of a federal regulated market in Brazil – which has potential to become the world’s largest betting sector – on the horizon and eagerly anticipated.

However, some hurdles remain in other nations. Notably in Chile, the country’s Supreme Court upheld a challenge from the state-owned lottery and pools operator Polla Chilena de Beneficencia and has blocked all other gambling sites. The situation in Bolivia and Peru may not serve the industry’s image in the region well…

For breaking news, analysis and features on Latin American betting and gaming, follow SBC NOTICIAS, SBC Media’s dedicated Spanish-language news outlet

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