Surprise: Match fixing rampant in pro soccer
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 23:02
PEDs in the MLB, deer antler spray (cue the laugh) in the NFL, crooked refereeing in the NBA, and now, match fixing in European soccer.
Is there any integrity left in modern day sport?
With the arrival of each new scandal, it appears that anyone involved in sports will go to great lengths in order to bend the supposed rules set by sports governing bodies.
This past week a preliminary investigation by Europol, the law enforcement for the European Union, was responsible for uncovering a vast match fixing scheme in professional soccer. From 2008-2011 it appears around 700 soccer games were fixed, stretching from the United Kingdom and other European countries to Asia. Yet, Europol thinks it is just the tip of the iceberg.
The years of denial that anything of this magnitude could ever exist in professional sports is over. There is a serious problem in soccer, and it is threatening to eradicate the few remaining threads of integrity left in the sport.
The sport’s governing bodies must be assertive in dealing with this scandal, or else the game as we know it, will be lost forever.
It is not just happening on a certain level, match fixing has weaseled its way into potential World Cup qualifiers, Champions League games and so on.
Match fixing first appeared in the early 1900s and has since become a part of the sport. In the 1960s, a man by the name of Dezso Solti, known to many as the Hungarian fixer, would invite referees into hotel rooms filled with money, car keys and other lavish items with the intent of bribing them to alter their whistle usage.
The times of match fixing have since evolved and adopted a significant technological element, which has opened the door to countless profits for bettors and bookies.
It has been estimated that approximately three billion dollars is wagered on sports every day, with most of the betting focused on international soccer. Singapore and the Philippines are known as the hubs of match fixing and are home to many of the most infamous bookmakers today.
So how exactly does it happen?
The system itself is highly intricate and complex, inevitably eliminating the opportunity for law enforcement to track and trace the betting and eventual fixes. To briefly describe the process, the bettor syndicate programs computers to place high-volume max bets on whatever the high level individual requests. Bets prior to and during the game are funneled through markets in Manila. They time the surges in the placed bets so the security centers are unable to detect suspicious activity. Not that it matters, because the security officials likely get a cut of the profits.
The bettors are able to stack the odds in favor or against a match, thereby controlling the outcome of the wagers and profiting as a result. The lower, unimportant bettors bear all the risk because they can’t change a bet once it is placed.
Referees, players, coaches and other officials are all involved in the scandal to a degree, which allows the outcomes to be determined prior to the match. As a result, the bettors are able to choose correctly and rake in the cash.
Honest competition in soccer is on its way out; exploitation for profits at every level has since taken its place. It is sad, really.
Unfortunately, I do not foresee UEFA or FIFA putting an end to the rampant corruption of the sport. As long as money is coming in and fans are packing stadiums, what is the need to make arrests and put an end to the scandal?
This is one commonality that stretches across corrupt sports entities around the globe. We see it in the NCAA, NFL, NBA, MLB and so on.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?