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Match fixing: for the threat to be faced it needs just one major footballing country to leave Fifa

By Tony Attwood

It may be the result of Sunday Thinking (Sunday being a notoriously dodgy day on which to contemplate the world, given its propensity for being a day in which one takes in too much rather unhealthy food with the family, and spends far too much time pontificating on life, the universe and all that stuff), but I have had the thought that I ought to create a list of the topics and issues that Untold has highlighted long before the rest of the galaxy got to grips with them.

Maybe I will do it, just to keep myself occupied on a day when I don’t feel like writing much and there isn’t any Arsenal news, and nowhere to go and dance.  Maybe I won’t, because pudding is about to be served…

So what, you may (or may not) be asking, brought about this sudden desire to pontificate in such a manner.

Well. it is the news that people are talking about match fixing in a way that they were absolutely not, the first time Untold mentioned the notion that matches were open to fixing.  That was when so many readers sneered at us, and we said that the authorities and their allies in the media were scared about the notion that all was not fair and square in football, and that they effectively banned any talk of any match anywhere, being bent.

But now maybe there is a chance given that even the Soccerex Global Convention (which this year took place in Manchester) debated match fixing and suggested that even an under-16s in Hong Kong was fixed.  Of course we still have the British attitude that it is only foreigners with their weak moralities and propensity for crime and drugs who are affected, but such a view forgetting in passing that crime and drugs are as rife in Britain as anywhere else.  Probably more so.  We should think again.

80 countries each year report that they have found match fixing.  Even England, now reports it, but now we replace the earlier belief that it can’t happen in England with the notion that it only happens in the Conference.

In reality it appears that, as Untold started reporting in its earliest days, whole crime networks have taken over certain clubs.

Emanuel Medeiros, CEO of the International Centre for Sport Security, said: “There was a ghost match between a team from Portugal and Spain that people could bet on. That shows how match-fixing has evolved. It also applies to club ownership.”

Ghost matches are matches that don’t actually happen.  That shows you how far this has gone.

“Illegal organisations are using front companies to take over clubs in Europe. I have evidence that this is the case but I cannot say which club or which country, although these are legitimate questions….There is the transfer of convicted players. What have sports authorities done to prevent this?”

A good question to which there was no answer.

Mark Sutcliffe,  of Sportradar, which monitors sporting events and the old favourite, “unusual betting patterns” agreed that the Hong Kong league was corrupt, saying “We staged an under-16s invitational friendly tournament involving teams from across Asia. On the morning of one game I got a call …to say they knew what the result was going to be. I contacted the law-enforcement agencies but, as the teams involved were not from Hong Kong and it didn’t involve anyone from Hong Kong, they said they had other priorities. It doesn’t bear thinking about if match-fixing is infiltrating at that level

“At the end of last season nine people were arrested at the end of one of our matches, six players and three officials. The investigation is not concluded yet but it can have a huge, detrimental impact on our reputation, on sponsors and crowds and, ultimately, on the development of football, of grassroots and the women’s game. Our league starts this week and it is having a detrimental impact now.”

Players and officials at all levels now offer their services as “buyable” to match fixers.  With match fixers and criminals now owning specific clubs, they are very much sought after.  Sportsradar’s view is that there is evidence of players and officials moving around from club to club and country to country to help the whole process.  In other words, there is as much of an international match fixing issue as there is a legit organisational system.

And then above all that is Fifa, itself reeking of corruption.

Indeed it is the involvement of Fifa, with its knowledge that not one single country has ever dared pull out of Fifa in order to cite its corruption, that allows it all to continue and to grow month by month.

The Interpol-Fifa steering group chairman said: “Jérôme Valcke, the general secretary of Fifa, called match-fixing ‘the greatest threat to football that can kill the game’. Football is top of the league as a target for match-fixing. Cricket is second.

“It is a global problem; 60 to 80 countries a year have reported allegations of match-fixing in football over the last three years. It is a significant global threat now and we need solutions to prevent it ruining the game.”

But he was wrong.  The greatest threat to the game is not corruption, but Fifa itself, for it is Fifa at the top of everything that allows corruption to flourish and grow.

All it takes is one country to say, “no we don’t want our game to be corrupted” and to pull out of Fifa, and the walls would start to crumble.  As a citizen of the UK I would love that to be the four UK members of Fifa, but I suspect the chances of that happening are less than zero.

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4 comments to Match fixing: for the threat to be faced it needs just one major footballing country to leave Fifa

  • deejay

    Arsenal V UAE FC yesterday was a good game to watch, however UAE FC are gulity of match fixing. By breaking the FFP rules, they are rigging games in their favor surely.. they should be wound up and closed down.

  • para

    Those who have a little integrity are probably not surprised that there is match fixing in football, after all, this is the concept that our society, hell, world is built on.
    “Dont get caught”, “strongest survive” and many such mantras define how the most of us behave, so it is clear that EVERYTHING we do will be tainted with this concept.
    Since i was 11 i felt that this world is somehow spinning backwards instead of forward, call me crazy if you will.

  • finsbury

    It’s hard to find news on the club formerly known as Glasgow Rangers FC. Even then most coverage doesn’t make sense. We heard BBC 5Live misrepresenting what was happening in the club earlier in the summer when the club were appealing for people to buy season tickets. Strange.

    Rangers was once the third or fourth biggest club in the UK. Maybe bigger.

    The Fall of the club that was once known as Rangers was well covered by fans of football upon the internet. Yet, until the proverbial hit the fan, this story was given absolutely no coverage by any of the 24/7 sports broadcasters. And on top of that the coverage of the mess that now exists has been minimal.