Angry Former Socceroo to Fight Betting Sanction

JUNE 24, 2015

Melbourne. Former Australia defender Robbie Hooker has slammed the national soccer federation as "hypocritical" after he was sanctioned for betting on domestic league matches when playing as an amateur in an over-35's league.

Hooker, a former assistant coach of the Socceroos, was given a suspended A$1,000 ($770) fine by Football Federation Australia (FFA) for breaching the governing body's national code of conduct.

The FFA did not name Hooker in a media release announcing the breach on Monday but said they had been alerted by a betting agency as part of an integrity agreement.

Though his fine was suspended, 48-year-old Hooker said he would spend A$500 to lodge an appeal to clear his name and would consider further legal action against the FFA.

"The only question I keep coming back to is 'Why me?' It's just not believable that I'm the only social, grassroots player who has had a bet," the 22-cap Socceroo told Fairfax Media.

"Everybody knows it's part of our sporting culture and that at every club at every level there would be at least a few players who punt on the A-League. It's all most of them talk about."

The FFA cited its national code in the media release on Monday, which bans registered players from betting on any club competing in a match.

Hooker, an assistant to former Australia coach Holger Osieck from 2010-13, is an enthusiastic gambler and earlier this year told local media he was in a dispute with a betting agency, claiming they owed him A$600,000 in winnings.

The FFA lists a prominent betting operator on their website as an official partner.

"Out of everything they've done in this whole process, it's probably the thing that I find the most hypocritical, that gambling on football is being promoted on their website," said Hooker, who played for Australia from 1990-98.

"It makes a mockery of the whole situation and proves how wrong their argument is. I believe that advertising betting on a national association website is also a breach of the FIFA code of conduct.

"I'll be putting in a formal complaint for discrimination and harassment, because what they are doing is completely out of order."

The FFA were not able to provide immediate comment but said in Monday's media release that the breach had been made public as a "general warning" to footballers who may not be aware of the betting prohibition.