MOSCOW, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Match-fixers in Russia could face seven years in jail under new legislation submitted to the state parliament by President Vladimir Putin.
The new law bans officials and players from betting on sports events they are participating in. Offenders also face fines of up to one million roubles ($33,000), according to documents in parliament’s database made public on Wednesday.
Widespread match-fixing and corruption are rife in Russian sport, experts say, as the country prepares to host several major events including the 2014 Winter Olympics and soccer’s World Cup in 2018. However, rarely has anyone been convicted or brought to trial.
Last month, Russian soccer chiefs opened an investigation into November’s match featuring Amkar Perm and their wealthy Premier League rivals Anzhi Makhachkala after it was reported that several former Amkar players had bet large sums of money against their former team.
Anzhi scored a last-minute goal to win the game 2-1 but soccer officials said they found no evidence of match-fixing.
Only one team, second division Iriston Vladikavkaz, have been found guilty of attempted match-fixing. They were thrown out of the league in 1997 but later reinstated in a lower division.
FIFPro, the global union for professional players, published a survey of nearly 3,400 players from eastern Europe this year that said match-fixing in Russia was as high as 43.5 percent.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said he hoped the new law would help police to bring the criminal element to justice.
“It’s a very serious document which gets the law-enforcement officials involved in solving this problem first-hand,” Mutko, who also heads the 2018 World Cup local organising committee, was quoted as saying by local outlet R-Sport on Wednesday.
However, the president of the country’s bookmakers’ association was sceptical about the new measures.
“There’s nothing wrong with this new law but the main aim should be to try to eradicate match-fixing, not the bookmakers,” Oleg Zhuravsky was quoted as saying by local media.
“But many paragraphs in it simply create more headaches for us instead of trying to fight corrupt officials.” ($1 = 30.3142 Russian roubles) (Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Clare Fallon)