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“Say it ain’t so, Joe”… a few thoughts on football and betting syndicates.

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Victory Through Harmony

By Gfor60

“Say it ain’t so, Joe”… a few thoughts on football and betting syndicates.

Well before the Boston White Sox baseball scandal, bribery has been used to influence games of skill . You name the sport, it’s had its share. Even the Romans were at it with chariot racing. Boxing, Cricket (way back in the 1880s no less than today), Football.. Association and Gridiron, Tennis, Horse racing, Athletics, Basketball, even Ice Skating have all had their day in court.

With betting an ever present temptation for both punters and bribers, the ability of either or both players and referees/umpires/judges to be influenced by greed is as strong today as ever. Taking the human element out of as many performances or decisions as is possible has led to technological advances in virtually every sport.

Line calls in tennis; photo-finishes; video replays in rugby; a myriad of developments in cricket together with sides having the right to challenge up to two decisions for a neutral review backed by all the systems available. A correct challenge is not lost. Gridiron has calls adjusted if needs be by off the field adjudicators.

Even football has the use of video replays POST the game. This for incidents that the referee may not have spotted that may have lead to disciplinary action.  Referees and assistants are in walkie-talkie touch with each other, and, in Europa games two additional assistants are on hand by the goal line to help decisions. There is even a 4th official, whose primary task it would appear, is to take the flack from offended managers and/or keep them apart when they start handbags at 10 paces with each other.

But unlike other sports, Football, possibly the wealthiest sport in the world is leaving players, managers, fans, owners and referees in a lose:lose situation. One point lost, for certain, in the UK Premier League caused by an incorrect decision can create a loss to a club of around £75 million.

Referees are on a hiding to nothing. Good, bad or indifferent, the poor sod in black (or green, fuscia, yellow, whatever) is handicapped to an unbelievable extent. Assuming he is calling it as he sees it, (and as we know, eye witnesses at Identity parades are notoriously fallible) then within seconds, cameras and commentators will be proving that the decision was right or wrong and, maybe, just about to cause one of those £74 million swings.

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Now the scary bit. Players can suffer trial by video. Their teams have no recourse to video evidence unless used for a post match appeal against a suspension. There is of course, no appeal against CL decisions….video or otherwise.

The FA is “governed” by FIFA.  Were it not it is still unlikely that that would result in an independent FA running the game for the good of the game.

FIFA, frequently exposed as an organization having many corrupt individuals at many levels, say that there will be no technology utilized, other of course than those already sanctified. These we know, do not benefit the cause of better decisions made on the field.

Various statements made include “Technology would slow the game down.” “The referees are the only judge.” “We would consider goal line technology, if the correct technology can be found.” …ignoring of course the technology already used in tennis and cricket. “We cannot use this technology at all levels of the game.”  With the greatest respect, Norsemen 4th Xl playing East Barnet Old Boys 4th Xl in the lower levels of the Southern Amateur League wouldn’t expect it either. They actually pay to play.

Now if it were agreed that each Premier/CL/Euro/International side could have two challenges using the technology always available at these games, and, indeed, if the ref was able to call on an adjudicator if he thought there was an area of doubt, time lost/wasted per game…as much as 5 minutes? Maybe each team challenge should cost say £50 000 if incorrect. If correct, no charge and two challenges still available.

But strangely, no comments from the powers that be to even contemplate such a move.

And one has to ask “WHY?”

Why leave refs with the potential of raising suspicion; players and fans with the feeling they have been cheated; clubs potentially missing out on millions of revenue?

To my mind, there is but one answer.  Corruption is more easily catered for without people asking difficult questions.

A footnote: Dermot Gallagher, a PL/FIFA ref for many years had this to say after the World Cup:

Former top referee Dermot Gallagher believes that the time has come for video technology to be introduced into football in order to help match officials get key decisions right.

The issue has come into focus once more after England had a goal disallowed in their 4-1 defeat by Germany at the World Cup on Sunday.

With the score 2-1, Frank Lampard’s shot smashed off the underside of the crossbar and clearly crossed the line.

The goal was not allowed to stand though, and Gallagher, who refereed for 15 years in the Premier League until retiring in 2007, feels that the time to act on the issue has arrived.

“It is ridiculous, because in the Europa League we’ve got men behind the goal,” he told Sky Sports News.

“We’ve got referees miked up in the Premier League, we’ve got referees’ assistants with buzzer flags, we’ve got all kinds of things to help referees at a higher level because the stakes are so high.

“You’re playing at the biggest tournament in the world and suddenly a game is decided, or undecided, by something which could have been tidied up in four seconds and it’s not a judgement call.

“It was actually a statement of fact. The ball was over the line and it would have made such a big impact on the game because England would have scored twice within three minutes and would have been right back in the game.”

We’ve proven that the quality of refereeing is poor – but what is the cause?

If we adopted the same standards as Belgium we’d hardly have any refs left

The shocking figures that prove that the Premier League is bent

The History of Arsenal – latest article is on Jack Crayston

Making the Arsenal– in the light of current developments it almost makes sense

19 comments to “Say it ain’t so, Joe”… a few thoughts on football and betting syndicates.

  • Jeebu

    That’d be the Chicago White Sox. But when you’re talking about the scandal,it’s appropriate to refer to the “Chicago Black Sox”.

  • Phil

    Nice article and agree with all that you say. Whether FIFA is a conservative organisation because the Execs have an average of of 60+, or because they want to have a margin of error in games that can be exploited remains to be seen. The fact is, technology should be used where applicable, and goalline technology in particular has no downsides whatsoever

  • Anne


    I’m glad you posted this article because I was just having some thoughts on this subject. I believe that one of the reasons that the establishment feels so threatened by Arsenal is that, unlike the other PL teams, the style of football they play can easily beat a referee fix. It’s a style of football that doesn’t rely on favorable refereeing decisions to determine the outcome of the game. They beat the fix against Everton, and I believe against Newcastle also.

    The thing that struck me most about the Newcastle match was the out-and-out desperation that the ref had to resort to to ensure the outcome, and even after that blatant, appalling, and worst of all completely obvious display of corruption, Arsenal would have held on had it not been for a really extraordinary goal. But make no mistake, Arsenal was supposed to drop the full 3 points. Why else the unwarranted 5 minutes of stoppage time? Did you see Pardew’s face at the final whistle? He wasn’t smiling. It was more like a forced grimace. I wonder how many insiders lost money betting on the Newcastle and Everton matches? A few Guardian reporters, perhaps?

  • T.Rets

    I am so jubilated to see others speaking of this subject – I’ve been at it for years. I am absolutely convinced that football corruption is rife in the game; I don’t care what they say,and with their fake amazement that one should even suggest such a thing, there are fixes going on and I have been proved right on this.

    One example of that proof was back in the 80s when Arsenal were in there with Liverpool, Man U and Forest and with Wimbledon on the scene too. Every single time Arsenal had opportunities (which is still often the case today)to go top there would be some incident in games concerning those other teams or our game would be littered with dodgy decisions, just like Saturday’s match. It would be a goal not ruled out for offside, dodgy penalty given, perfect goal ruled out for a non offside, clear penalty not given, goalies looking like they could have saved certain shots, etc etc.

    I used to drive everyone around me mad with it up on the terraces; I’d see it happening so often. Well, what ended up coming out? Fashanu, Grobbelar and Hans Seger throwing matches in a betting scandel that’s what. So, that’s Liverpool, Forest and Wimbledon all represented and they had some slightly dodgy results against United. As a result, many results went ways they ought not to have during those seasons and Arsenal were cheated out of trophies. Nothing has changed as far as I’m concerned and, indeed, why should it when the same people run the game? They do not want technology to be brought in because they will NOT BE ABLE FIX GAMES!!! Man U were the team of the age they wanted to dominate with the formation of the Premier League and so as not to make it too obvious they allow others to win it here and there; jsut look back at those years when it was between us and the mancs and how often were we disrupted by sending offs and suspensions while they were getting away with murder?

    A little research will show you that the FA were formed at a meeting in a pub called the Freemason’s Arms…Need I say anymore?!

  • arsene-al

    Great article, like @Anne me and some friends have just been talking about why football has no on the spot video evidence, and its simply because they can’t control the outcome anymore. Imagine if they suddenly decided to use video evidence in games, the comeback at newcastle would NEVER have happened. It’s the only way fifa can maintain their strangle hold on matches, and honestly why else would they go to so much trouble not to include it in the game. It’s utterly, horribly ridiculous

  • RedGooner

    Its mind boggling all the other sports in Britain like Athletics the sprinters were cheating with drugs, Horse racing always in the limelight, Cricket more recently and no is interested in the integrity of football.

    Great points on how Tennis Rugby etc all have moved forward and we as fans have to put up with this crap weekly.

  • Aaron

    Is it strange that Phil Dowd isn’t refereeing what so ever this weekend?

  • mark

    1 Million Members for Sacking of Referee Phil Dowd (Arsenal 4: 4 Newcastle)

    Join and share –!/pages/1-Million-Members-for-Sacking-of-Referee-Phil-Dowd-Arsenal-4-4-Newcastle/122074121486

    If link doesn’t work, please search out the page name.

  • Gf60

    @Aaron. Possibly he made enough money last week-end to see him through?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I would have to agree with all of the above Gf60 ,but I would have to disagree with Dermot Gallager’s opinion that England would have been back in the game as they were piss poor, and had that goal stood,
    Germany would have just shifted into a higher gear and still have won handsomely.
    That “goal” of 1966 has been finally been laid to rest and a new
    “if only” chapter will overshadow all future England Vs Germany games for the next 50 years.

  • Gf60

    There is an element of truth in Gallagher’s opinion. After all, Newcastle were piss poor….

  • A Casual Observer

    Good article – well balanced, loved it!

  • Anne


    I’m going to modify your argument about technology to say that “They do not want [Arsenal under Arsene Wenger] to be brought in because they will NOT BE ABLE FIX GAMES!!!.” Bear with me, and I’ll explain what I mean. I first became an Arsenal fan because I was (and am) a Barcelona fan, and I see Arsenal and Barca as philosophical allies in terms of how the game of football should be played (i.e., derivations of the “total footbal” approach of Johann Cruyff). One of the characteristics of this type of football is that, when played to perfection, it renders most attempts to fix matches through referees obsolete.

    Basically, it’s a style of football that centers on control and possession of the ball. Use your superior passing game to maintain possession in the midfield, force your opponents to chase the ball, build attack from there. Now: say that you’re a referee that’s trying to fix a match, and the team that you’re fixing the match against is dominating the game with rapid one-touch passes, and they’re moving so fast that the opposing team can’t even catch them to foul them. And of course the dominant team isn’t committing any fouls because they don’t have to. When a challenge comes, they deal with it by offloading the ball.

    So, as a referee, what kind of call could you possibly make to disadvantage that team? If they’re using a passing game to hold possession in the midfield and the opposing team simply can’t catch up with them, what can you do about it? The only option would be to call a foul, but if they’re not committing anything that even looks like a foul, calling fouls to give advantage to the opposing team would not only make you look like a complete a**hole, but would also make the fix blatantly obvious to the casual observer, which is generally undesirable (for a detailed case study see Newcastle v. Arsenal, Feb. 5, 2011).

    The upshot of my (very abbreviated) analysis is this: The style of football that Arsenal plays really hamstrings people who want to fix matches through the corruption of referees. If the team is at the top of it’s form, the fix won’t stop them from winning. On Saturday, despite the most blatant and obvious attempt at match fixing that I’ve ever seen, it still took an amazing strike to beat them. And that was with the referee being so biased that he turned the match into a farce. Even under those circumstances, Arsenal almost beat the fix.

    I guess what I’m saying, to those Arsenal fans who’ve stuck with me up to this point, is that the answer to your problems is in your own hands. If it had been Barca playing against Newcastle on Sat., they still would have clobbered them, despite the fix. But the only thing that separates Barca from Arsenal in that sense is that Barca has had more time to develop as a team. If Arsenal sticks with it and keeps developing, it won’t be long before they attain that same level of performance, and the EPL will have no answer, match-fixing included. That’s why they hate you so much, Gunners. It’s because they’re terrified of you. You have them by the throat, so don’t let go now.

  • kiwigooner

    Aint that the truth…
    Beautifully said

  • @anne that was very well put and no one could have said it any better.. it sucks that Arsenal has got to put up with such unfairness and their only crime is that they play football. pundits commentators rival fans all call us whingers and whiners but have they once tried to understand why we do it in the first place.. its a pity that the club and we as fans are made to go through such unfairness…

  • goonergerry

    Yes,some of the decisions of Dowd were consistent with being corrupt last weekend- but they were also consistent with sheer incompetence, being unduly influenced by the crowd.
    Until there is some evidence- we cant reasonably assume that Dowd and other referees are corrupt- and it is wrong and indeed illegal to publish articles alleging corruption when you have no evidence. Much as I agree with Anne’s sentiments- without evidence it is just too easy to dismiss such views as paranoia.

  • T.Rets

    @goonergerry I’d say we saw all the evidence we needed to see in that game,but I understand where you’re coming from. I dont agree but I understand why you say it. And from now on we can all keep check of what goes on in our games and others around that effect outcomes of league position in regards to title challenges etc, and in so doing collect and collate the self-evident evidences that certainly do seem to exist. 10,000,000 flies can’t be wrong, can they?

  • Anne

    @goonergerry, T.Rets

    I agree with T.Rets. After that match, there’s no question at all. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m primarily a Barcelona fan who, prior to that match, only followed Arsenal casually. I had no idea that there were these ongoing debates about referee bias, etc. But at the conclusion of that match, I was in complete and utter shock at what I had just seen. I still am, to tell you the truth. I’ve never seen such an open and audacious display of official bias, and I wouldn’t have thought that any official would even have the nerve to do it.

    And if that wasn’t bad enough, it was followed by the type of international media cover-up campaign that I would previously only have associated with a major government trying to hide war crimes.

    So, without having had any prior exposure to this issue, I was left wondering why the hell the establishment had it in for Arsenal. And my attempts to find out are what led me here. What I witnessed on Saturday was insulting, offensive, and a personal affront to anyone who loves football. From here on out, I’ll be supporting Arsenal 100%, and I’m guessing that Phil Dowd has inspired many others around the world to do the same.

  • zubeir

    #Phil Dowd
    has inspired many others
    around the world to do the
    positive thing huh? 🙂