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Fifa admits bribery is possible

by Walter Broeckx

We all live in a perfect football World. Well, that is what we want to believe. Or what they want us to believe. There is no such thing as corruption in football. Games are not sold. Refs are not bribed. That is what we should believe.

Most of you know that I don’t believe in this kind of fairy tale world that the media want us to believe. 

Some people will admit that there have been some things that had something to do with corruption. Yes there has been that ref Hoyzer in Germany who confessed in 2005 that he had sold some of his games to betting organisations. But that had to be a one man thing for sure.

Yes there was the Italian football scandal where teams ordered refs to get good results. But you know well that’s Italy. This has to be a pure Italian thing.

And yes there was the problems in Belgium with the Chinese betting companies where millions were put on games in the Belgium second division. And where even certain games in the first division got an abnormal amount of money betted on a very bizarre final score and with the little help of an assistant and the ref the result came as the betting organisations wanted it to happen. Some strange decisions in the final minutes of the game. But, well as the justice department in Belgium is working at a very slow tempo it could take another 10 years before we bring someone to court.

But the Belgium FA got a few people  that confessed the practices such as players and coaches who pleaded guilty and who told what had happened. Players where threatened with violence, by members of gambling syndicates,  against members of their family if they didn’t do what was asked. Some people got banned by the football authorities but the person who was the brain after the whole thing fled back to China and was never found by the Belgian police. But still you could say this has to be a once in a lifetime thing.

Okay yes there was the Turkish gambling affaire where some 50 people were arrested including some players in the first division but you know this is Turkey.

I could go on. In Holland there has been some investigations, in Croatia, the world cup 2006 when Ghana was named in an investigation, in Asian football there have been many strange things going on.  In China where the league start was postponed to send the refs to an anti-corruption training camp. And I think even the most hard denier of anything wrong in football will have heard of Grobbelaar and his practices.

And we all remember Lord Triesman who claimed that Spain and Russia were trying to bribe refs at the world cup and that one country would help the other country to win the organisation of the world cup in 2018.

So there are two groups of people out there. The one that say: nothing is wrong. They say that nothing can be wrong in football as they believe that all the players are pure and good and honest. That all refs are some kind of superman who cannot be bribed. That all the chairman are trustful and nice people. That all managers are pure as gold. And that those  gambling syndicates in Asia are just hard working honest man who wouldn’t hurt a fly even if it would land on their dinner. Well this could be true.

And the one who think that there is reason enough to be worried about the honesty in the game. After all it is a game where money rules. And when money rules, the worst part in humanity comes to the surface. Some people would do anything for money. Recently we have seen a few examples from persons that one could call important personalities. Like a Chelsea player that accepts money to show people round where they shouldn’t come or a former princess (forgive me if she still is one as I am not that good in those things) that accepts money to introduce people to her former husband. How much money you have doesn’t matter in fact. Some people will just do everything for even more money.

But if you believe in the first option, the nothing is wrong thinking, than I have some bad news for you. Because if nothing is wrong then why should we take any measures to prevent that something could go wrong? If everyone is pure and good and honest we don’t need to do anything  I would think.

Well a few days ago the government in Belgium informed  the public that the justice department and the police are setting up a special investigation unit where everyone can phone or write in when they see something strange in football in Belgium. Now if  nothing was wrong, why should they bother to set this up?

And also on that same day Fifa declared that, for the coming world cup, they are going to use a Early Warning System (EWS) to detect anything that could be wrong with games in the world cup. Fifa has declared that they will also install a hotline where players, coaches and refs can phone in any attempt of bribery. And Fifa tells it has an agreement with 400 bookmakers to inform Fifa if they see something strange happening. Now if nothing was wrong, if nothing could go wrong, why should they even bother to come up with all this?

So when I see this happening I think it is time to pull our heads out of the sand. If I say that there could be something wrong in football you can laugh with me. Who am I, after all.

But when a justice department organises a special unit and when the most important football organisation, Fifa, does all kind of things to prevent that something might happen during the World cup in South Africa I think this means that even the top of the football authorities knows that there are things happening in football.

In fact I feel happy for two reasons. Fifa acknowledges there are dark forces out there trying to do bad things and they tell me that I was right with what I have said  in the past. Not that they did this to do me a favour I think. But yes I feel a bit satisfied with this.

The other reason that I am happy is that I hope that this will have as a result that the next world cup will be played in a fair way. We all love football and we all hope that what we see is a fair game where the result is decided on the field and not in a dark room somewhere around the world.

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Temporary editor’s note: As Tony is going away for a few days to get a well deserved rest,  I have agreed to take over the operation of the site during his time away .  If you have something that cant wait to be published you can send it to this  email address  walterbroeckx@hotmail.com.

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Commentary notes: If you want to comment please have a quick read of this, to make sure you comment is published.

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9 comments to Fifa admits bribery is possible

  • gfd

    One reason why FIFA is still refusing to use technology for crucial decisions. That would eliminate a lot of (dark) room for maneuver.

  • walter

    gfd, I should have included this in my article because you really touched a vital thing. But somehow I missed this link when writing it.
    Why would Fifa try to eliminate corruption by others (gambling syndicates from China or so, refs that influence games and receive orders from other crooks) and not eliminate wrong decisions from refs.
    My theory could be that Fifa wants to control the dark room themselves. If they instruct a ref to come up with a certain result and if that ref would allow a goal that is no goal (or the other way around) to please Fifa then with the use of goal line technology the (instructed) decision from the ref could be turned around.

    Fifa just wants to hold the power in their own hands (= back – dark room)

  • Gooneraside

    Good article, Walter.

    Except although 400 bookmakers may have said one thing, it only takes 1 to arrange a fix.

    And fixing has occured since time immemorial – or do I mean immoral?

  • Gf60

    But Walter…re Triesman and the dark forces…The FA say there’s nothing to be investigated. Fifa says there’s nothing to be investigated. So obviously there’s nothing wrong and Triesman was just indulging himself in off the pillow talk.

    And I have fairies living at the bottom of my garden. Pretty ones with wings and dresses made of autumn leaves (for modesty’s sake you realise).

    But just like Fifa, as gfd points out, I don’t really think I need technology. It might show me up as an old buffoon.

  • dupsffokcuf

    Good article Walter.

    This part struck me,
    “Fifa has declared that they will also install a hotline where players, coaches and refs can phone in any attempt of bribery.”

    The idea being they (FIFA) could get their share of the bribe first.

  • Minesy

    How can things ever be trusted when the attitude of the authorities and the media is “it’s a hard job” and refereeing desions “even out over a season” no matter how bizarre or inexpicable the decision …

    Could it be the continued refusal to use video replays during games is down to the fact that it would destroy a huge revenue stream for the corrupt in the game by making sure the decisions were fair ??? Surely not …. I’m off to play with the easter bunny now …

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I know as far as it is possible to know that the English game is corrupt in this regard.

    Before the last world cup, when Rooney was injured, I wrote an email to 606, the BBC’s football phone-in show. Basically its message was ‘look, it’s an effin’ disaster, but all we can do is to pick a squad and go, so here are a few options which remain’. Absolutely disgracefully, a squad was selected which exactly mirrored some thoughts I had penned as a discussion piece. When I mentioned this to an Australian at work, he said, in a snide way: ‘Maybe a bet was in order?!’ Let me be clear that I didn’t know that such bets existed then. I educated myself in the past 4 years…….

    So I’d start by asking whether there are gambles on who gets selected and whether managers are either leaned on or participate in such scams. It can clearly affect squads, can’t it? You may find that an England international absented himself from selection for a few years in protest…….

    I think you should look at a song I wrote, as a joke, which I sent to M.P. after Arsenal had beaten Man City at Eastlands in 2008 and just prior to the AC Milan last 16 ECL tie. I repeat, it was a joke. Nothing to do with gambling. I repeat. Nothing to do with gambling. The last line was: ‘So Real and Meelan can be shown the door’. Both teams departed the last 16. It might be a fluke, but I wonder. Particularly as S. Berlusconi won the Italian election soon after…coincidences, perhaps, but it makes you wonder…….you’ll note that the same song mentioned the Pope telling SB to ‘eff off’ and that JM ended up at Inter…perhaps you’d like to ask Mr Murdoch if he likes my songs, eh??

    I think you should look at ‘yo-yo’ teams, whose results oscillate wildly, but they still stay up. You’ll find them in all the top 3 leagues in England, although the team changes from year to year. Again, it may just be a feature of a league, that teams can get on a hot streak after being in the doldrums for a long time, or it might be something more sinister. I can’t tell you. But the classic gambling fix is to set a good horse to lose a few times to lengthen the odds, then clean up by running them true to form. Think about it……..and ask whether me writing, sarcastically, that Arsenal should buy Rooney and pay him £250k a week affected the results of another London team……..

    I think you should look at regional ‘cartels’ and see if deals are done to keep teams from the same region up in the EPL, which is a money train. The logic behind that is clear. I possess no proof that it goes on.

    I think you should look at whether players deliberately play badly to oust a manager and whether any gambling links exist. I can think of three examples where that might be argued to be the case, but again, no proof exists.

    I think you should look at ‘less than xxx goals’ as a gamble which can be easily arranged. Probably not wise to do 0-0 too often, but 1-1 is ideal for a less than 2.5 goals, isn’t it?

    You might like to look at a few games with astonishingly LARGE numbers of goals. Can’t raise indictments, but a few results this season were eyebrow raising in the extreme. In England AND in Scotland.

    You might like to look at international friendlies. A few interesting trends there……

    You might like to think about two teams agreeing that there is a match up to half-time, but that the score at half-time will reflect the score at full-time. That would be easy to simulate wouldn’t it? You could do the same by agreeing that the half-time score would be 0-0 or 1-1, but the second half would be a real match. Wouldn’t be hard to arrange that, would it?

    For the gamblers, those are things which are better than crude match fixing. They make their money, but the professionals can still be professional to a degree.

    I don’t know in football, but I’d lay Mr Roman’s wealth that such things go on in tennis. Including at at least two Grand Slams. It correlates with an increased use of trainers at courtside in the past few years. Must be simple to feign dizziness or a ‘bad back’, call on the trainer for some ‘pills’ or ‘massage’ and perk up afterwards, eh?

    The best ‘fix’ in tennis? Make sure a strong player wins 2 sets to 1, not straight sets. The most flagrant? Make sure a player wins, but loses one set to a bagel. Or a no-hoper loses one set to a bagel. The most consistent? Get one seed to lose early in a tournament. It makes sport ‘unpredictable’, doesn’t consistently stop a player competing and fixes the gamblers’ fix nicely. You’ll note: I’m not saying that happens. I’m saying it would be a sure-fire winner for the gamblers if it did……..

    You may, worryingly, start to find that deals are done across sports. Or across tournaments. Or as part of bidding processes.

    At what point does this become ‘business in a man’s world’? And how pure can professional sport be in actuality?? And at what point is it realistic to educate children growing up about the realities of the adult world?? You tell me……..

    I remain 100% confident that this will not lead to any effect on the England team’s chances at the World Cup, as that is a football tournament.

    Isn’t it?

    And all I’m doing is raising hypothetical scenarios, since I don’t possess the proof to name names.

    Do I?

  • lp

    Nice post Walter and you’re right, money rule everything these days. really sad isn’t it?

  • Finsbury

    “Since I don’t posses the roof to name names”

    Well, a department (& budget) of skilled officers and surveillance tech. could help you out there:

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE63K3XL20100421

    My faith in the Capello Index was shaken after he chose to retain John Terry, captain, Leader & Legend, as Captain.

    And now, he’s chse to take Heskey and SWP ahead of TW14!

    Well, I hope he’s off to manage Inter.

    At this rate, could Ron Manager could be England’s next manager?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NeRoSFZWbs