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England is the centre of match fixing – Sky focussing on total denial

By Tony Attwood

On 30 May 2014 the Sky Sports website ran this headline

English football is free from match-fixing, says FIFPro survey

and continued, “English football has sent a clear and positive message that it is free from match-fixing, according to Professor Andrew Harvey, the head of a comprehensive survey by FIFPro.”

It is interesting because hardly any other news service touched this story – not even with the proverbial barge pole.

And they didn’t because of the weakness of the research, which consisted of asking 120 players if they had played in a fixed game or had any suspicions of a fixed game.  They all said no – of course.  I mean if you have suspicions of serious criminal activity involving a whole group of people, possibly including some of your mates, would the first person you told be a professor?   No, if you told anyone you would tell the police if you were honest, or your fellow players, if you felt you could make a few pennies for yourself.  Or perhaps someone you trusted totally if you wanted advice on what to do.

True, Dr Harvey also said that England and Scotland were not immune to match fixing and that everyone must be vigilant in safeguarding the game in Britain.  But then spoilt it by saying, “I think the players have sent a very clear and positive message that the game in England is as clear as we know from match fixing, but we need to be on alert.   And we have to assume the majority of players are clean and are therefore telling the truth.”

Well assume away and dream on Doctor, because today we find, via a somewhat more comprehensive review which didn’t just ask players, that more match-fixing took place in England than anywhere else this season.

The report was released to the European Parliament yesterday and is reported today (as far as I know, and I’m only looking at the British media) only in the Daily Telegraph – well I never!  I’ve been having such a go at them for their stance in support of the AAA, I must balance the books a little and recognise that they are standing alone on this one.

“Eleven English games were found to have fallen victim to betting fraud by Federbet, an organisation of top European casino owners and bookmakers which monitors suspicious gambling patterns,” says the Telegraph.

Now as I have often said, match fixing due to gambling is just one of the ways matches are fixed, and the easiest to spot.  Harder to spot, but probably much more prevalent, is the knobling of the ref and assistants by club owners, using the Italian model of which we have written so much in the past.  The evidence of our reviews of referees’ performances by other referees, and the way in which PGMOL (which controls the refs in the Premier League) leave many, many questions unanswered.

Now the match fixing that Federbet has reported is not Premier League, nor even Football League, but mostly in Conference North and South, and that is where the players who have been picked up in recent enquiries in England, were playing.

(And on a personal level, having watched about half a dozen Conference South games this past season I must say I had some doubts, just sitting in the stand and not looking for fixing – but of course that is not evidence.  But yes, some strange things happen at this level).

Also fixed, according to the evidence, was a game in the Women’s Super League in which FA Cup holders, Arsenal Ladies, play.  It was Notts County v Everton on April 20, and this might start to give us a clue as to why Arsenal could so readily win the cup last weekend and be struggling in the league.

Federbet, based in Brussels, did exactly what Untold has done for the past six years – suggested that football’s authorities are failing to take the matter seriously, and failing to do anything much to tackle match-fixing – apart from watching Sky Sports presumably.

We’ve now seen this specific gambling based match fixing in 110 Champions League and Europa League games (all in the qualifying rounds where there is less TV coverage and less public attention), with a further 350 under suspicion.

Its general secretary of Federbet, Francesco Baranca, is reported in the Telegraph of saying, “Every day, all around the world, there is an attempt at match-fixing. And this virus is getting bigger and bigger.”

And of course as always Italy is not exempt, although its main problems lie elsewhere.  Catania v Atalanta in Serie A was also cited as a fixed match along with games in France, Portugal, Greece and Ukraine.

And there is now significant talk that the World Cup is going to be fixed – although the media will not report that generally as they have so much invested.   So yes, let me stand up and say, well done Telegraph for reporting this.  Sorry about your Arsenal attitude, but top marks on this one.   They quoted Baranca as saying of the criminals involved, “It is not so impossible that when they have learned to fix the match during the domestic competition they are also going to fix the match in the international competition.  We can solve this problem in quite an easy way but nobody wants to solve it. Federations are not listening to us, Uefa is not listening to us.”

Can I run that again?

We can solve this problem in quite an easy way but nobody wants to solve it. 

Exactly what Untold is saying about referees, and exactly what all the evidence we pile up year after year shows.

Already we have had the National Crime Agency asking Fifa to issue an alert concerning Nigeria’s friendly against Scotland in London where a Nigerian football agent was filmed claiming he could arrange yellow cards and penalties in his country’s matches in Brazil for a fee of up to £81,000.

The problem we have in England is the “it can’t happen here” attitude which the report on Sky emphasises, a view which goes back to the days of Empire and the class system, in which it was believed that an English gentleman would never behave in a dishonest way.  The problem we have with the world game is Fifa, which is still vaguely attempting to deal with allegations relating to the run up to the 2010 tournament.  2014 is the dim and distant future for them.

The Conference is not the Premier League, and warm up games are not world cup matches.  But match fixing does exist, and it does exist in England, and there is no doubt that with the revelations about England, we are once again only looking at a fraction of what is going on.  Fixing in the Conference is undoubtedly child’s play because the players are less talented and mistakes are commonplace.  But if it is happening there you can be sure it is happening on a much more sophisticated level higher up the pyramid.

An open PGMOL would help find the fixers and get rid of doubts.  A closed, paranoid PGMOL makes us all feel that we are still only seeing 1% of what is really going on.

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34 comments to England is the centre of match fixing – Sky focussing on total denial

  • para

    Quote: ” But if it is happening there you can be sure it is happening on a much more sophisticated level higher up the pyramid.”

    I like this statement.

    England RULES the world, at least economically (City of London where the banks are) not to be confused with London UK which contains this complete separate “City of London”.

    Many do not know that the Queen is lower in the hierarchy of the “elite” than the Mayor of the City of London.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice to see that most are still in denial about match fixing . Doesn’t look as if things are going to change any time soon. Let’s see if the rest of the English press start to wake up or just continue to believe that everything is hunky dory .
    And the others ? Well , join them if you can’t beat them….

    http://thevoiceforschoolchoice.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/jim-rex-head-in-the-sand1.jpg

  • jambug

    OFFICIAL ORGANISATIONS:

    Priests (sex)

    Bankers (Fraud/deception)

    MP’s (Lies/tax evasion/lies/sex/lies/drugs/lies)

    The police (Cover up/lies/racism/lies/excessive force/lies)

    Teachers (sex)

    MEDIA:

    News Of The World (Phone hacking/taping)

    BBC (sex/duplicity)

    ENTERTAINMENT:

    Glitter (Sex)

    Saville (Sex)

    Barlow (Tax)

    SPORT

    Cycling (drugs)

    Cricket (gambling)

    Rugby (bloodgate)

    Sprinting (drugs)

    FIFA (Bribery/corruption)

    It took me 2 minutes to run off that list of the top of my head of various forms of cheating, fraud, deception and all manner of illegal shenanigans, throughout all levels of society, that has occurred well within recent memory.

    From high level public office, top level sporting authorities and organisations, as well as individual sports men and Women. The entertainment business and innumerable persons within it. the list could literally go on and on and on.

    Our society is absolutely rotten to the core from top to bottom.

    But woe betide anybody has the audacity to point a finger at our ‘holier than thou’ Premier league, FA or PGMOL and your treated like some kind of paranoid lunatic leper.

    We have all our main sporting media outlets, SKY, Talkshite, the BBC and the Red tops incomplete and utter denial that anything could possibly be a miss.

    And this despite years of evidence to the contrary, much of which has been researched, analysed and published by this very site.

    But what happens? NOTHING.

    They just bury there heads deeper and deeper in the sand.

    The fact is we Brits are still stuck so far up our own ignominious backsides we can see no further than the end of our stuck up noses. Or at least should I say we don’t want to.

    We are so good at so many things in this Country, but honest self appraisal is certainly not one of them.

    Honestly, it is utterly shameful and embarrassing.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Apart from the telegraph, the media silence is deafening. Where are the crusading Manchester guardian to be seen?
    Implies the media are complicit in this. Some agents rumoured to be very influential in the media

  • Mandy Dodd

    Well said Jambug, the UK needs to take a long hard look at the way it runs itself….before pontificating to others.

  • That survey reminds me of the mantra in the English media about the premier league being the best in the world and there being no easy games. The former could be true but wouldn’t it be more valid coming from a neutral? The latter is nothing but utter bullshit. Games in the English league and any league or competition for that matter are of relative difficulty. If all matches are of equal difficulty, why don’t Sky show Sunderland v Norwich or Stoke v Fulham on SuperSunday? Nonetheless, many lap this narratives up and spread them around mindlessly.

    That Sky exaltation of the survey exonerating the premiership of any match fixing incidents is not aimed at intelligent people; it is aimed at the thoughtless majority (sadly) who then parrot such everywhere and would fight you to the death if you dare question their claims.

  • Minesy

    I was listening to Radio FiveLive yesterday and they were having a heated debate about a new law being proposed by the collation government.

    Essentially, they want to stop the defense of “I didn’t know anything criminal was happening” in organised crime trials … illegal betting and match fixing would surely come under the scope of this proposal … theoretically then, the onus will be on the individual to take reasonable steps to show that they don’t know of or have suspicion of any organised criminal activity in their job … now, as the evidence Tony presents above is clearly in the public domain, I wonder if there might be some worried football officials should this become law in the UK …

    As a disclaimer, I realise the irony of anything associated with FIFA, UEFA or the FA being described as “organised” …

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/03/theresa-may-fresh-powers-organised-crime-associates

  • oldgroover

    Brickfields

    I think that much of the English press and the BBC have reported concerns of match fixing in lower & overseas leagues. You won’t hear many suggestions outside of blogs that it’s occurred in Premier League because it most likely hasn’t (yet).
    It will continue, there’s no doubt of that, as will fixing of cricket & other events by Asian betting syndicates, but with more TV coverage it will be difficult to cover up.The Nigeria goalkeeper has become a TV star in his own right due to the vigilance of the British bookmakers.

  • jambug

    I didn’t even mention Horse racing/gambling.

    Trainers doping Horses. Jockeys stopping horses.

    With the amount of Gambling, well the whole industry is solely based on it to be fair, that goes on, it is hardly surprising that cheating is so prevalent, at all levels.

    But they do at least try to deal with it. Jockeys, trainers, bookmakers, have all had life time bans recently for varying serious transgressions.

    It isn’t a ‘clean sport’. probably never will be, but at least they acknowledge that, and try, overtly, to tackle it head on.

    If the PL and FA had a fraction of horse racings openness and honesty towards the problems it faces that would at least be a step in the right direction.

    At the moment all we are doing is going further and further backwards.

  • Shard

    Fantastic and informative article. It really is amazing that people don’t even seem willing to consider the possibility of fixing in football matches. In my view anything with so much money, and so little regulation, is bound to be corrupt in some way. I started blogging on Untold all those years ago mainly because it was the only blog I saw which was not just saying it is possible, but talking about how to tackle it so that it doesn’t occur. Well done Tony and co. for fighting the good fight.

  • Shard

    and jambug

    Two fantastic comments.

  • oldgroover

    jambug

    I’ll forgive you for omitting the NHS & local government from your lists.
    I think the British public get off on high profile exposés (of the type you refer to), and would really, really slaver over any evidence that would incriminate the PGMOL & by default referees. But its not forthcoming, because if the media can bring down MPs & entertainers (past & present) and even themselves (NOTW), then surely a few referees employed by dodgy organisation would be easy meat. It’s hardly an institution is it.
    Anyway, here’s to hoping.

  • jambug

    oldgroover

    Indeed, all it seems that is lacking is the will.

    That is almost certainly down to the balance of ‘vested’ interests.

    If and when that balance changes is perhaps when will finally see the dirty underbelly that is just waiting to be exposed.

    Until then all Untold can do is continue with it’s Stirling work to ensure it doesn’t just get brushed under the carpet.

    At least not in these parts anyway.

  • Stevie E

    Seems the corruption story is now being picked up by the Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/03/fifa-sepp-blatter-britain-football

  • none

    Seems the Daily Telegraph didnt get Sky’s message. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/10873585/England-had-worst-record-for-match-fixing-this-season-says-betting-firm-Federbet.html

    Some quotes from the article

    “Ten of the fixtures named by Federbet took place in the Conference North and South, the level of the game at which an investigation by the Telegraph last year sparked an ongoing trial in which several players are accused of corruption.
    …..
    Federbet, which is based in Brussels, accused football’s authorities of failing to do enough to tackle match-fixing after finding the number of rigged fixtures across Europe rose sharply in 2013-14.
    Including several Champions League and Europa League ties, 110 matches were identified as having been fixed, with suspicions over a further 350. The total of 460 possibly-fixed matches was up 20 per cent from the previous year, Federbet said.”

    So are we really saying that fixers only target lower division games in England, yet are happy to target the much higher profile European fixtures… Sorry this strikes me as complete bollocks. If you are willing to target the CL/EL matches then you are pretty much willing to go after anything. Plus if the betting companies saw thousands being bet on teams in lower divisions then dont you think it would send alarm bells ringing?

    “In November, the Telegraph exposed the biggest alleged match-fixing scandal in England for decades, helping prompt the then Culture Secretary to call an emergency meeting of the country’s sporting bodies.

    Prior to that, English football had been considered by some to have become largely immune from fixing due to the spiralling wages paid to players in the Premier League era. But recent scandals have acted as wake-up call that it is as vulnerable as anywhere.”
    No, the FA (and by extension the rest of the authorities, Police/Government) have simply been sticking their heads in the sands hoping there wasnt a issue because they were terrified that Sky would stop pumping money into the sport.

    Sadly I dont think this will make the slightest bit of difference to the FA as they dont seem to be willing to take any responsibility for the way that the sport is governed (see their complete cock up of grass roots football and bollocking from Sports England).

  • jambug

    none

    “No, the FA (and by extension the rest of the authorities, Police/Government) have simply been sticking their heads in the sands hoping there wasnt a issue because they were terrified that Sky would stop pumping money into the sport.”

    You may be right about that fear, but there is every chance it un founded.

    As I mentioned above, horse racing has many and varied problems, but that hasn’t stopped sponsorship, or indeed attendance, at all.

    I think we all know the World isn’t perfect and that wherever there is big money and gambling opportunities there will be people ready, willing, and able to bend and break the rules.

    But, if like in racing, you are honest and open about it’s existence, people can live with that, especially when they see the guilty being brought to book and dealt with in the severest way.

    Surely that’s better than the disgraceful state of affairs to which the game has descended to at this current moment in time.

  • finsbury

    Forget about Asian betting syndicates, what about betting companies owning and sponsoring premier league teams? That alone breaches all ethics of fair play and common sense.
    We saw how the Tevez case was handled, how the officials/premier league accommodated the third party owner’s interests over that of a club/s. That’s not an opinion it’s an observation. We don’t need to see those recent emails to conclude that the PL are not interested in administrating and protecting the sport because they are clearly no fit for purpose.

    If we consider that every professional cricket player in the UK is given guidance on how to deal with fixers, groomers and worse then this report carried by the Murdoch media can be seen for what it is.

  • Valentin

    If you work in banking, there is already a proviso against the “I didn’t’ know” defense called wilful ignorance. It is your responsibility to take appropriate steps that show you could not reasonably know what is going on. For example, if you refuse to increase monitoring despite being told so by compliance, regulator, internal whistleblowers and also external agents such as media reports, you can still be found guilty.
    In effect it is diminishing the burden of proof. It is the legal equivalent of negligent homicide but for business. It is not any more beyond reasonable doubt that the accused did not know, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did not deliberately ignore the warning sign.
    The FA and PGMOL are engaged in a game of who can stick their head in the sand and pretend everything is alright the longest. The British media are complicit in spreading the lies. Very pro-active in attacking foreign target, but absent when the target are closer to home.
    For example, British newspaper are very forceful in reporting potential misbehaviour by Michel Platini during the World Cup attribution to Qatar, but they all shy away from all the reported details of how the 2012 Olympic Games were won. Tony Blair, the prime minister getting some of the voters in a closed session despite such behaviour being banned by Olympic a International Committee. Strangely some British contracts were signed with some firms linked to relations of voting members. Some have even been banned since for corruption. Some were named by Amnesty for being behind some appalling human rights violation including torture. Strangely not a single pip about that by the Telegraph.

  • Gord

    I believe the BBC reported on the FIFPro survey.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Very true Finsbury – one such team is Bet365 Stoke – a team that are shown on here to get a very good deal from the refs, despite the way they play. Part of that was down to the relationship Tony Pulis had with Fergie (including sending up teams to OT to roll over and not put a tackle in) and his influence with the League Managers Association when he was there, but I am sure the owner has quite an influence on things as well

  • Shard

    Well what about Sky themselves. Their power over the league is huge. They decide match times and probably have influence in other areas as well (such as suspensions, maybe even fixture lists) They shape the narrative through their commentators and highlights. And yet, there is also a SkyBet. I doubt there are any safeguards in place to protect against the conflict of interests that might occur there.

  • jambug

    Valentin

    “If you work in banking, there is already a proviso against the “I didn’t’ know” defense called wilful ignorance. It is your responsibility to take appropriate steps that show you could not reasonably know what is going on. For example, if you refuse to increase monitoring despite being told so by compliance, regulator, internal whistleblowers and also external agents such as media reports, you can still be found guilty.”

    You mention “external agents”.

    Would I be correct in the assumption that Untold Arsenal would be classified as an ‘external agent’?

    If this is the case, maybe what you suggest in the paragraph above regarding ‘wilful ignorance’ is what is behind the continuous cyber attacks UA comes under.

    After all, the fact that UA has produced mountains of painstakingly assembled evidence clearly showing disgracefully high levels of refereeing bias and cheating, must surely be a worry to certain parties.

    The fact that more and more media outlets and ‘external agents’ are picking up on this could be another reason why these parties feel the need to put an end to UA’s hard work.

    WILFUL IGNORANCE indeed

  • BILL FROM MANHATTAN

    Jambug, You are so right about the way the F.A. is so full of shit when to comes to sanctity of English football. When the allegations of Ferguson calling and texting referees and former referees coming out and saying they were afraid to make decisions against Man.U cause they feared pissing off Ferguson came to light I said the F.A. would do NOTHING. I also said that the cowardly British media would sweep it under the proverbial rug. I was right on both counts. Over here in the States we would not put up with that kind of fucking do nothing attitude. When Pete Rose was being investigated of betting on baseball every media outlet was on the story like stink on shit. Major league baseball appointed special investigators to dig up the facts and evidence to get to the bottom of the whole rotten mess. It went on for more than two years, Even I grew tired of hearing and reading about it almost every day. But at least something was done and Pete Rose got banned from baseball for life, He cannot step foot in a baseball stadium anywhere, Major or minor league. He was a baseball icon and was a sure thing for election in the baseball hall of fame. We in America take our sports very seriously and don’t want even a hint of impropriety about them. Over in your neck of the woods the big shots who run the game and the media who reports the game are in cahoots. They know most of the public has short memories, So they do their head in the sand bullshit and their sweep it under the rug nonsense because they know they can get away with it. If the level of officiating ever took place in the Super Bowl that was on display in Arsenal’s recent F.A. cup win, The public would be howling, The media would be screaming what the fuck is going on. Across the pond in England there was NOTHING, NADA, NYET, ZILCH. Sometimes silence can be deafening.

  • Gord

    FA Wales and PL Wales are protesting the idea of federbet that 2 games were fixed (a 7-0 and a 1-1).

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/27703896

  • menace

    Bill

    There was a lot of screaming after the FA cup final but most of it was on the wrongly given corner. There is a whole bunch of antagonistic journos wanting Wenger to fail so that they can report a French failure.

  • jambug

    BILL FROM MANHATTEN

    Eloquently put as usual.

    Tell me, what do the AMERICAN journalists/pundits/ex players make of it all?

    From what I gather, and I am only going by what I read on here, all the ‘ex pat’ talking heads working for ESPN/NBC or whoever it is that covers PL football your side of the pond, are just as biased and anti Arsenal as here,

    So not them, but the AMERICAN guys.

  • menace

    I would think the Americans think of all the going ons in UK as quaint. Generally they cannot see any bias or cheating until it really hits them in the face. There is so much other bad news to report that sport in UK is ignored unless Beckham breaks wind.

  • oldgroover

    jambug

    Give 7amkickoff a try. http://www.7amkickoff.com
    It’s a US Arsenal blog and most of the commenters are Americans
    The blogger, Tim is an experienced coach and comes over to watch a couple of games a season.
    He also does some match day analysis work for Arseblog, stats etc.
    I’m sure you’ll like it. I do. I think a couple of unsolders (like Mandy ) also go onto it daily.
    Another one is The Bleacher Report, but it’s a bit dull and not always accurate.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes Oldgroover, always see 7amkickoff as well worth a regular visit

  • oldgroover

    Did I say unsolders? That’s the predictive spelling thing messing with me again.

  • BILL FROM MANHATTAN

    Jambug, Over here in the states we have three networks that cover the Premier League. ESPN, FOX, and NBCSN. To myself the whole dirty apple barrel is rotten, Some apples worst than others. ESPN has as their rotten apples Craig Burley, Steve Nichol, Stewart (Judas) Robson and Tommy Smyth. Those are the real Anti- Arsenal haters on that network, Burley and Robson especially dislike our club and that fucking rat Robson does not even try to disguise his hatred for Wenger and Arsenal. It is that blatant. Shaka Hislop and Paul Marriner try to be fair but they gotta toe the company line which is bashing the Arsenal. FOX has Warren Barton, Eric Wynalda, and Brian McBride. Barton is Robson Incarnate, He loathes everything about us but unlike Robson he tries to disguise it but It doesn’t work. A moron can see right through his bullshit, The other two toe the company line which is of course Anti-Arsenal. MBCSN has Rebecca Lowe, And the two Robbies, Earle and Mustoe. To myself they are the most fair of them all, they on occasion do bring up the financial restraints from building the stadium and did say that injuries did play a part in our chase for the title. MBCSN shows all the Premiership matches, FOX has the Champions League and F.A.Cup Games and ESPN has the World Cup games in the U.S.A. I gotta say that during the F.A. Cup Final FOX had Vinnie Jones on the show, He was a breath of fresh air. He gushed about Wenger and how our club does thing the right way and how the Arsenal stayed in the Champions League all these years. He said that our club is building for the future and to watch out of us down the road. You could tell that he is a big admirer of Arsene Wenger. I really enjoyed the Welsh thug from Wimbledon who turned actor, Too bad his ilk and far and few in between.

  • oldgroover

    Manhattan Bill
    He gets about a bit doesn’t he, that Vinnie? Didn’t know he was a Gooner. It takes all sorts.