THE heads of country football in the Ballarat region are confident wholesale betting by club officials and players on community football is not taking place.
In the wake of two Ballarat umpires being banned for gambling on the Central Highlands Football League, Ballarat Football League chief executive officer Rod Ward and CHFL president Eddy Comelli each declared there is no evidence of betting on football by participants in their respective competitions.
The Ballarat Football Umpires Association on Wednesday banned a field umpire and a goal umpire for the rest of the year after it was found they had bet on the CHFL premiership.
The BFL has a formal bylaw on betting that states: “The Ballarat FNL strictly prohibits Ballarat FNL registered players and officials from placing bets or wagering in a game or competition where players or officials are engaged”.
The league has a sponsorship affiliation with online bookmaker BetEzy through its BetBallarat website which, Ward says, allows the league to ensure players do not break the rules. The BFL does not have the ability to monitor other betting agencies. “We have no evidence that there is any betting by players or club officials,” Ward said. “With BetEzy there are checks and balances and I receive a monthly report on who places bets on the BFL.
“Anyone found guilty of it is in a lot of trouble, as these umpires are.”
The Central Highlands Football League has no formal bylaw on betting nor does it have an affiliation with any betting agency.
However, Comelli said the CHFL backed the VCFL’s opposition to betting on community football.
“We certainly would hope (players and officials) don’t bet on it,” Comelli said. “The Central Highlands doesn’t have a formal policy but backs the VCFL policy with regard to not betting on community football, and we don’t endorse any betting activity by any outside agencies.
“We feel the BFUA has taken appropriate action (with regard to the two umpires).”
The Courier contacted one of the two suspended BFUA umpires, who declined to comment yesterday.