NRL warns of life bans for match fixing
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg addressed media on Thursday afternoon to discuss reports concerning alleged match fixing in rugby league.
Greenberg stressed from the outset that the integrity of the game was the number one priority for everyone involved in rugby league and that anyone found guilty of breaching that code would suffer the consequences.
"I want all of our fans and our players and everyone in rugby league to hear me very directly today. If – and it remains an if – any allegation of match fixing is proven against any person, whether a player or an official, they will face the harshest possible penalties," he said.
"This is a threat that exists for all sport in this country and globally. The response from the NRL will be very clear. If any allegations are proven, then we will ban anyone found guilty for life."
Thursday's announcement confirmed NSW Police had the power to conduct an investigation into any alleged activities, with Greenberg announcing any inquiries would fall under their jurisdiction.
"In recent times, our Integrity Unit has been working with police under the strictest of confidentiality to provide information and assistance to the police as they undertake that assessment. This is not yet a formal investigation by police," he said.
"As they said this morning, they are in the early stages of making an assessment. But let me be clear, whatever the police require, they will get from the NRL and from our Integrity Unit.
"This is a process being led by the police and it will be for the police to advice on those details."
Greenberg said it was too early to speculate on any of the details surrounding the allegations, with any such action likely to jeopardise the police's efforts. He refused to answer any questions about specific teams, matches or players as there was no need for conjecture at this point in time.
"The last thing – the very last thing that I or anyone else involved in the game should risk – is saying something here that risks compromising the police's work or any subsequent investigation or prosecution," he said.
"I'm not going to prejudice the investigation work of the police by commenting on any specifics.
"We should be very careful today not to cast a pall over all our game because of some suggestions of some illegal activities. There is no specific allegation yet, no charges, no formal investigation by police, and we must be careful not to jump to conclusions."
Following on from the success of Wednesday night's Holden State of Origin series opener, Greenberg stressed that he had full faith in the NRL community and its efforts to uphold the integrity of the sport.
"I can say this definitively, I am entirely confident the absolute, overwhelming majority of our clubs, our players and our officials who love this game, put in their absolute best week in and week out, and would never act to compromise the integrity of our sport," he said.
"I know it means too much to them, to their families and their fans to ever contemplate doing anything to damage our game.
"The best of the best were on show last night and I'm confident that our athletes put in their all."
Greenberg made it clear in his final remarks that anyone found to have broken the law would be without question banned for life.
"If – and at this point it is if – such a point is proven, we will take whatever action is necessary to protect the game and to ensure that those who have damaged it, play no part in it.
"We run the world's best rugby league competition and our job is to protect and to promote our sport. We won't stand for anyone compromising our sport. The police have our full support in taking whatever action will be necessary.
"I want everyone involved in our sport today – whether professionally or at the grassroots – to understand that our job is to act for the sport and for the 99.9 per cent of the men and women who contribute to our sport, who do so with passion, integrity and commitment.
"If some people are found to fail that threshold, then there is simply no place for them in this game and we will not hesitate to ban them for life."