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July 2021

How corruption within football works, and how the players and refs get hooked


Don  McMahon

This post is about impending corruption, probable slavery and definite destruction of a professional’s career and personal life. I felt compelled to write this after watching a series of Interpol educational modules available online

This website outlines the ease and perfidy with which criminal elements, profiteers, ruthless mafia con-men and some semi-legitimate power-brokers can entrap and ensnare naive and unprepared professionals.

Some of the more obvious pre-requisites to becoming a criminal’s slave or as they say on the website, a fixer’s tool, are:

1) A lack of maturity combined with a sense of superiority because one is ¨famous¨,

2) A conviction that one has ¨made it¨ when one signs a professional contract and has nothing to worry about once this happens,

3) A psychological blindspot when it comes to their failings or weaknesses,

4) An inherent mistrust of law enforcement and senior adults advice,

5) A conviction that one is untouchable and can do no wrong,

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6) A personality whose strengths allowed them to achieve sporting success but which also makes them seriously prone to addictive behaviour,

7) Access to some seriously addictive and excessive options such as prostitution, drugs, gambling, drinking, illicit behaviour, adventurous living, etc.


There are other more subtle pre-requisites but the above are typical for both the rising youth ¨stars¨ and the more established adults in professional sport. There was a very interesting first hand report by a former Belgian pro footballer who was cornered into cheating in matches by his Chinese owner. In his statements, he regales us about how he was slowly but steadily drawn into the criminal behaviour his owner expected of the players, and how easy it was to become entrapped. When he was finally arrested, the owner fled the country and returned to China scot-free.  The player, on the other hand, is persona non-grata in professional Football!

Anyone who believes that this isn’t happening in Britain should listen to the statements of those trying to enlighten and educate professional sportsmen and women to the dangers inherent in any contacts with addictive options or criminal elements.

What really struck me was the ease with which these criminals can gain access to and begin to hook their victims because of their specific weaknesses or habits.

I could see the following scenario as being very possible for a referee or player in professional sports anywhere in the world:

1) The criminals identify a weakness that he can exploit from his ¨sucker¨and a place where they can entrap the target (a bar, a brothel, a casino, etc) .

2) The crook approaches the target and tries to befriend him or her using a rather innocuous gesture (buying them a drink, dinner etc.) which might open the door.

3) If it doesn’t work out….nothing lost, if it seems fruitful, the next step is undertaken.

4) The criminal offers the ¨mark¨ a potential payoff that is hard to refuse and which requires very little risk on the target’s part (for example a referee is asked to issue a red card in a game); not a particularly suspicious event in the normal run of things.

5) If the referee accepts, he gets his payoff and the criminal has hooked his fish.

6) When the referee begins to balk at doing more serious fixing, the fixer gently reminds him or her that they have a ¨deal¨ and that only the fixer can rescind it…if the slave tries to break the deal, there can be and often are very serious consequences.

These men are ruthless, inveterate and highly dangerous manipulators….nobody is safe from entrapment in their web and pretending that Britain is somehow untouched by this plague is tantamount to believing that Peter Pan is reality.

England is in fact prime territory for such corruption with sufficient gambling, mafia and mob involvement in all aspects of the British sporting scene and the media/government and sports governing bodies persistent denials of such activities. Interpol has made it abundantly clear that corruption and addictive entrapment can happen anywhere there are officials and players naive enough to be enrolled.

Please do visit the Interpol website above if you have any doubts about this.


1 July Anniversaries

The books…

The sites from the same team…

6 comments to How corruption within football works, and how the players and refs get hooked

  • nicky

    A very sobering report.
    I suppose that with the post-WW2 improvement in the standard of living for many, it was inevitable that, in turn, the sports of the world would benefit and prosper. The real nail in the coffin, IMO, was the advent of global TV and advertising. “A licence to print money” they said.
    And so, as an example, professional football gently became big business and the love of money overtook the love of the game. And big business will always spawn crime and corruption.
    Don, you rightly expose the background and the means but the solution is far from simple, I’m afraid.

  • colario

    Off subject I know but I’ve just discovered it. It’s a gem.
    ‘something has gone wrong’ As if we didn’t know that!

  • Stroller

    Yes, corruption follows big money as sure as night follows day. The TV money, naming rights and merchandising have changed the game and it is us the addicted fans who are at the bottom of the food chain.

    In almost any other business involving the sums now sloshing round there would be some form of regulation in place (not that I’m advocating that) but equally the way the game fundamentaly operates is much the same as when the maximum wage was abolished 50 odd years ago. It’s just that all the figures have a load more zeros attached to them (from ticket prices through to transfers, player wages, managerial back-handers, and very likely pay-offs to officials).

    The Harry Redknapp trial last year gave just a small insight into the cowboy culture that exists in the game, yet our legal system was unable to make anything stick. What chance of proving anything approaching corruption when it comes to either players or referees?

  • Adam

    The truth finally reaches us.

    we have no boundaries but those given.

    We accept the limitations, only because we can surpass them.

    You cannot hold me back. I’m stronger than you.

    Im dangerous, because I don’t fear you.

    Stand up to me.

    You want to compete?


    Stand up and speak.

  • nicky

    While there are so many tainted by sharp practice, bungs and outright corruption, the chances (as you rightly point out) of proving wrongdoing under the Law, are sadly remote.
    One can only hope that one day the whole nasty bubble will burst and sanity will return to the game.

  • finsbury

    “conspiracy theories about simple things.”

    Wrote one of Untold’s critics upon another post. At least it posted its critiques here, as opposed to snide comments elsewhere.

    Let us consider this logic:

    A professional cricketer playing and working in the UK will be given guidance on how to deal with fixers and their agents. From the police and the cricket authorities. Fixers who may be from far away or from close to home. A former police officer as been assisting the cricket authorities form their guidelines for professional players.

    As we all know cricket has a lot less money sloshing about then football. With far more players and spectators. Er.

    Is it rational or reasonable to critique those asking for similar safeguards in the sport of football as “conspiracy theorists”? Well, yes. If you happen believe that “it could never happen here”. And there we find an answer, of sorts, regarding the lack of Reason and the denial of the context in which modern sport finds itself.

    I suppose it all evens out in the end.