The World Cup is Fixed

By Tony Attwood

Niko Kovac, coach of Croatia, said after his side’s defeat that they might as well pack up and go home now.

It’s a sentiment that many of us as Arsenal fans have felt over recent years as referee decision after linesman influenced referee decision has gone against us.

And I suppose because we are used to all this, and used to the media ignoring the story week after week, we’ve found ways to deal with it, including our referee reviews, and last season for the first time ever, referee previews, for each match.

We’ve also learned where the relevant questions are – questions that seem utterly beyond the wit of virtually any British journalist to ask.

Virtually any, but not any, for the BBC, the first news organisation to start to take notice of what we were saying, when they interviewed Walter and Dogface, ran the story “Could matches be fixed in Brazil?”

Here’s a part of what they said on 29 May…

“Surely the fixers would shy away from such a high-profile tournament, watched by billions around the planet and with football’s governing body on red alert for corruption?

“Not so, according to Ralf Mutschke, Fifa’s head of security.

“The former Interpol executive and police officer says he cannot give the World Cup a clean bill of health and has even identified the matches that carry the greatest risk.

“According to Mutschke, the following is all true:

  • Certain teams and groups have already been identified as vulnerable to fixers
  • The last round of group matches, involving teams with nothing to play for, are most in danger
  • Warm-up games are also under threat
  • Fixers have already approached players and referees
  • The fix of choice will focus on the number of goals in a match

“Match-fixers are most likely to entice players or referees to influence two betting markets: the Asian handicap and the over-under goals market.

“On the Asian handicap, teams are handicapped according to their form, so a stronger team must win by more goals for a bet to be successful.   Over-under markets are simpler.  Gamblers are given the opportunity to bet higher or lower on 2.5 goals, 3.5 goals and so on.

“I would say I am most worried about these two markets,” Mutschke said.

“The match result is a possibility, but it is much harder to organise because you need so many players.  With the Asian handicap or over-under, you may only need the referee or one or two players.”…

The BBC continues later…

“Mutschke says fixers have become bolder in their attempt to rig contests, making up-front offers to players and officials rather than attempting to groom them over time.   “I’ve had reports that people are approaching players and offering $20,000 without a grooming period,” he says.

“Before, it was all about grooming, getting closer to the target, but we have a lot of records now about cold approaches. They go to the player or ref and offer money to throw a match. If he does not agree, they go to the next guy. This happens very often. It’s pretty bold.”

We all know what we saw in the opening matches, we know, because the BBC reported it, that even the utterly corrupt Fifa is now taking match fixing more seriously, and we know that the British media don’t like mentioning it.  Instead they trot out the same story that they have been running for every world cup since 1958 – the trouble with the foreign refereees is that they aren’t British.

The tragedy of all this is that it is such a simple analysis to make.  We see a game in which wrong decisions are given and we ask how that could happen.   The four answers are

a) the ref and linesman made an honest mistake

b) although we can see the errors on replays in the heat of the moment from the angle of the ref etc, it is very hard to see the errors

c) the mistakes made were so gross and so obvious that any decent ref should not have made them and we conclude the ref and his team are incompetent

d) the ref has been bought to engineer a certain result or certain score.

The first three are rehearsed on the British media but not the fourth, despite Fifa’s own admissions about match fixing.

Now of course it may be argued that you can’t just go around saying that referees are fixed, because that is slander, although no more slanderous than suggesting they are incompetent.

But finger pointing and name calling is not really what I am writing about.  It is about the possibility that games are fixed, and what that possibility is.  Given what Fifa has said, what the BBC has reported and what we have seen, I’d say the possibility is very high that this WC is fixed.

Disallowing a goal of Giovani dos Santos once might have been misfortune but twice is careless and looked very much like an attempt to influence the result.

Interestingly the media are only slowly waking up to the fact that Blatter’s proposal to allow managers two challenges per match to a ref can only have been made in the light of the old crook’s awareness that other crooks are eating into his pie.

But still most of the media in general won’t debate this.  Instead we have (admittedly sometimes amusing) attempts at humour such as, “The real victim of course will be Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, who you can expect to find hiding in the amazon jungle forty years from now, feverishly brandishing yellow cards at bemused tribes people dressed in tree bark, unable to accept his tournament is over.”  That from the Guardian.

The reason is simple.  You will have seen it on Untold.  Every time we raise the issue of match fixing, and present the evidence, there are many people who ignore all the evidence and instead scream and shout abuse at us for raising the issue of match fixing.  You might remember that hilarious occasion where we gave as an example of things not being right, the issue of Tottenham penalties.

The vitirol that poured in was something you had to read to believe – and we had to delete a lost of the worst abuse that came in.

What was so amusing, but also so instructive, was that the Tottenham fans and AAA who attacked us, screamed that we were idiots because Tottenham had no penalties that season.  In fact what had been written was that Tottenham had no penalties and clearly should have had several.  We were saying Tottenham were hard done by, but the readership didn’t get that far.

But no, for the papers and pundits this notion of serious match fixing is not one to be discussed.  Instead we get the Independent today where it is suggested that in all sports, “rancid injustice might be the most crucial ingredient, and it must be preserved.”

I think they were trying to be funny.

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22 Replies to “The World Cup is Fixed”

  1. I remember a quote by the Argentina captain rattin after the world in England in 1966 when they had lost to England, he said with slight smile on his face we understand that in Europe European teams win the World Cup ,in South America South American teams win. I think history tends to back this up.

  2. I would guess that Mr B himself fixed the Brazil game for different reasons – not for money – can you imagine how badly the world cup would go if Brazil went out in the first round? They already hate fifa for costing them 11 Billion whilst trousering 3 Billion.

  3. Yes, sadly this WC and football in General is fixed.
    The Guardian reports that none other than one of the most corrupt refs going, as we know to our cost, Busacca has backed the Japanese ref, case rested
    Then there is the inexplicable officiating in the Mexico Cameroon game….as you say, goals under, Asian handicap.
    Also agree on Blatter, too many other crooks taking his bounty. The first two games of the worlds premier competition decided by refs
    Further confirmation will come when after the tournament, we analyse the treatment of the countries that spoke out against Blatter recently.
    Blatter is nothing more than a frontman who has allowed criminality to flourish in the game taking his cut as he goes along. The real power behind this lies with people we have never heard of.
    The only solution is a breakaway from FIFA, an organisation ran and audited by people that are not corrupt able…..wherever they may be found.
    This WC will be weighted heavily in Brazils favour, for lots of reasons, as suggested, partly to keep protesters relatively quier. Let’s hope a team like Holland , or Germany have the quality and can upset the Applecart, tho sadly, as Blatter critics, it is unlikely they will be allowed to.
    A word on our own FA, as Arsenal fans we know they are up to their neck in this despite their protestations, they are the ones that sent a prime minister and heir to the throne to influence delegates, they are the ones who courted Jack Warner and had Beckham pay him a personal visit to his home.
    With the exception of the amazing performances like last night, this criminalised tournament is not worth watching, and the EPL runs it very very close.
    As another blogger says, football is not fixed, it’s fucked.

  4. Like last nights game Holland v Spain, have you ever seen a team give up the ghost of being world Champions in that manner? It also puts the next manager of united,look like a world beater, not a failure like he was in World Cup 2002. High fives for the cringe worthy surpose it was better than his last one hugging SAF..

  5. While it is encouraging that this sort of gambling fix is being looked into, it is also among the easier fixes to spot and identify because the motive is clear and traceable in terms of money changing hands.

    What no one in the media ever mentions is an institutional fix, despite the Calciopoli scandal. Where the motive of the fix is not money, but simply the advancement of the football ‘business’.

    It’s like identifying a criminal such as a bank robber and launching a manhunt for him. Very admirable and necessary. At the same time, the bank uses its financial status to manipulate records, browbeat its customers, manipulate the legislature and political high ups, all so it (and those running it) can continue to profit more and more. That is not termed a crime. That is just business.

    But this won’t change until the public demand change. Sports are a big business in the US and they’ve had their own sporting scandals. While they might not have eradicated those problems or even revealed the entire extent of them, their general attitude is not of brushing things under the carpet and pretending it never happened, but of taking clear steps to prevent it happening again. Their viewers expect nothing less. Do football viewers expect and demand better? Based on the way people protest against the idea of match fixing and institutional bias, how they try and justify its symptoms, I would have to say no. And that’s a real shame.

  6. There are a lot of shady dynamics in this World Cup – one seems obvious though… with the ever growing popularity of the “Fuck off FIFA” campaign among the Brazilian proles; they could really do with something to distract them.

    No doubt Brazil will go far… or at least until the latter stages – but this might require a bit of engineering in the group stages… depending on who turns up and, indeed, if other fixers are nibbling on Blatter’s pie.

    The other thing that worries me is how England will be treated – I would fully expect the ‘Arsenal’ treatment given that England (and its disgruntled media) have been a bit of a thorn in FIFA’s side of late.

    We shall see.

  7. Wasn’t there something about a certain quarter final match at the 1966 World Cup?

  8. @Tony

    Does match fixing influence certain aspects of some games for financial benefit? It surely does. People have been prosecuted for it. The authorities need to keep up their vigilance and due diligence to ensure that it is kept to a minimum or even eliminated. I have little faith in Fifa to do so.I do agree that it’s ignored as an issue by the media. Transparency stops a discussion like this. Fifa need to be more transparent and the media need to do their job and hold them to that and keep them on the right path.

    Regarding the World Cup and recent incidents – Lets not go overboard. Incompetence or fixing? I think its the former. The referee for the Brazil game had a nightmare. It’s also incompetence (I think) to put him in that position. I didn’t see the Mexico game (working). Not every poor decision or refereeing performance is a sinister occurrence.

  9. I also think we need to be wary of anti-South American bias in the British media. These left-wing upstarts need to be taught a lesson – that sort of thing – because quite a few South American governments recently have been standing up for their people, and even forming trade blocks and so on to try to put themselves in a better position in competition with the US and the EU.

  10. Take your point Pat. I admire the stance of the Brazil protesters on the context of this World Cup. Sadly they are paying the price so a bunch of crooks can make a shed load of money.
    But if anything positive is coming out of this, FIFA have gone from an organisation everyone knew was dodgy but were largely ignored, to one of the most reviled organisations on earth..or at least part of earth. The media ….especially the Sunday times have played a part in this, now let’s hope the media can bring themselves to recognise match fixing for what it is and bring it out in the open
    Looks like this is the tournament where all that is bad in the game will be shown in the most unmistakable and undeniable light…….it has certainly got off to a very inauspicious start.

  11. So far the following have had big influences on the result or the scoreline:

    Unbelievable penalty for Brazil awarded at a crucial time
    Croatia goal disallowed after a dubious decision to award a free kick to Brazil for a ‘foul’ on the goal keeper
    Brazil player not sent off for a clear pre meditated elbow to the face of his opponent
    Two Mexico goals disallowed incorrectly
    A scandalous penalty awarded to Spain – one where the Spain striker CLEARLY threw his leg out at a defender not even close to making contact with him (a decision that the BBC seemed to gloss over as if not wanting to shine a light on it)
    Spain striker not sent off for head butt – it was only slight but he did throw his head at the defender and other players would (and will) get sent off for that

    All this and we are only four games in!

    I have absolutely no doubt (though no solid proof of course so I can not say it is fixed, just that I believe 100% that it is) that the vast majority of English PL games are fixed to a very high degree and also no doubt that the World Cup is the same. Football, with the influx of money, is now more or less the same as the Eurovision Song Contest or the WWF. Yes it can be entertaining, but lets not be naive enough to think it is actually a real sport anymore.

    I mention the money because that is the root of all the evils. Some mistakenly believe that because players are now rich they are harder to bribe. That is not how greed works.

    I actually lay quite a large portion of the blame at the doorstep of the fans. They have allowed money men to plunder the sport. They have stood by and accepted the new path to success – i.e. buying success – and pretended and lied to themselves that it is ok as long as they benefit. Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG, etc… I am talking about you (but not just you).

    Anyway – I will watch the World Cup for what it is. A festival. Completely stage managed and scripted to provide entertainment and somewhere in the background those state managers will be getting very rich.

  12. Hi Dogface,

    And thanks for your comment. I hope most things are going as well for you as is possible.

    Off Topic (or not, as I happen to see it).

    Stewart Lee is a satirist. One of my favourites. Lee recently had a series on the BBC. The episode that perhaps makes my posting ‘not off topic’, is the one entitled “Context”.

    This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I think youngsters and/or AAA will detest this humour. For everyone else, I’d urge you to at least check the relative football bits, which start at about 19 mins, with extra special attention to the vignette at the end of the show (26 mins.), which sums up the whole refshite thingy:

    Shrug your shoulders, oh yes.

  13. jayramfootball

    “I actually lay quite a large portion of the blame at the doorstep of the fans. They have allowed money men to plunder the sport. They have stood by and accepted the new path to success – i.e. buying success – and pretended and lied to themselves that it is ok as long as they benefit. Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG, etc… I am talking about you (but not just you).

    Anyway – I will watch the World Cup for what it is. A festival. Completely stage managed and scripted to provide entertainment and somewhere in the background those state managers will be getting very rich.”

    100% agree.

    Regarding the PL I think it is Arsenal that are mainly to blame.

    How come?

    Well who, out of all the teams in the PL, suffered the most from the arrival of the ‘oilers’ and there untold Billions?


    It was us that was affected the most.

    From being the only Club capable of challenging the juggernaut that was Manchester United, almost overnight, we was banished to the fringes.

    And you know what, EVERYBODY LOVED IT.

    Deposing that smart arse French man and his fancy dan bunch of foreign whingers was manner from heaven.

    Frankly, who gave a shit how it was done as long as we was knocked of our perch.

    Can you imagine the outrage if it was Arsenal that suddenly had all this oil money, and knocked the mighty Manchester United off there pedestal?

    It would of bean ‘cheating’ ‘illegal’ ‘shameful’ you name it.

    As I say, the main reason nobody gave a shit, in fact everybody loved it, was because we was the Club that got well and truly shafted.

  14. @jambug, I understand your logic and agree with it.

    It is not Arsenal’s fault per se, but because it is Arsenal that suffered it made it a welcome development for the media, FA and PL so they have been less than active at stamping it out. I am certain that if it had been Arsenal who benefited from the oil money then sanctions would have been in place years ago and the likes of Man Utd would not have suffered as we have. The authorities would simply not have stood for it. Whilst we have a go, rightly, at the selfish attitude of City and Chelsea fans I am pretty sure that the majority of Arsenal fans would have acted in the same way. Selfishly happy that it was us benefiting and not seeing the bigger picture of football – at its very core – being ruined.

    What I mean by “football at it’s very core being ruined” is the erosion of what football is REALLY about. It is about the bond between fans and club, fans and players, the Saturday mornings at the cafe having a hearty breakfast before setting off to the game, the butterflies before watching a game even if its just on TV, new hope at the start of every season, the realistic prospect of being winners, the sharing of glory and despair with the players on a very personal level (even if those personal relationships never REALLY existed), the Monday mornings at school or work and the resulting banter between fans, sometimes on the receiving end, sometimes giving the friendly ‘abuse’ but always knowing that it is glory in the moment and the next time it might be you who is getting stick. The realisation that this is more than a sport – its part of the fabric of society for millions.

    Most of this is now gone – its been replaced by business, but worse, business where profit is not important. Glory is bought, not earned and as such it means nothing. Rather like winning a poker game by just betting more than the other guy has and forcing him to fold. Winning means less, losing means less. Players and fans are so far apart and every time a Fabregas moves to Chelsea, or an RVP to Utd or a Campbell to Arsenal, etc,.. that gap grows wider. These guys are not our hero’s anymore, far from it. I don’t feel like I share their glory or despair. I am just a spectator. My hope is more or less gone. I know that my club can not achieve greatness for no matter how much we progress, our rivals will just spend another £100m to widen the gap again.

    The corruption and bias just makes it worse, but make no mistake that levels of corruption and bias are correlated very closely to the amount of money in the game. The great problem for football is that once greed and corruption take hold it can’t easily be removed. Too many people at the top stand to gain wealth by letting it continue, including those that claim they are trying to stamp it out.

    In my view the football we used to know is dead – which is why in another thread I made it clear I don’t care about players or any individual involved in the circus that is now football. All I really care about is Arsenal FC achieving greatness, but I know full well it is unlikely.

  15. jayramfootball

    I remember the post you are referring to and I do understand your frustration and I could see, to a point, where you where coming from.

    That being said, I cant help but finding myself caring passionately about any player that pulls on an Arsenal shirt, even though in the back of my mind I always know they could, and often do, let me down.

    But as I see it, my love for Arsenal is so deep, that it is effectively unconditional.

    The problem with unconditional love is that as often as not you are going to have your heart broken.

    As regards to the past, and the connection there was between fans and players, that was largely born out of loyalty and longevity. I contest that had the same financial temptations arisen back then that exist now, those same players may not have been quite as loyal as they where.

    To me, win lose or draw, trophy or no trophy, is totally and utterly irrelevant to how I feel about Arsenal.

    Of course I enjoy it more when we win matches and trophies but it is in no way the be all and end all.

    If that was all being a fan was about 90% of Clubs wouldn’t have a single fan !

    In fact, when things go wrong I feel an instinctive need to support them even more.

    Like yourself I detest the corruption and bias in the game, and as such I understand your frustrations, but as far as Arsenal are concerned I’m like a love struck teenager. I just cant help myself.

  16. @jambug – I feel exactly the same about Arsenal FC. I will never stop supporting them no matter where they are or what they achieve. That side of things is most certainly unconditional.

    I agree 100% that players of yesteryear would have acted the same way if the money had been sloshing around. It is the MONEY which is the root of all evil in the game. When that goes away (if ever) then I am quite sure that football will return to what it should be. For now, though , it really is quite a disgusting worldwide spectacle.

  17. Since WC 1950 Brazil have been moaning, they date not lose this one. The first match was indeed fixed, Mexico vs Cameroon that score favours Brazil, therefore not playing one the big boys.

  18. Just wait to see what happens in the rest of the Holland / Spain group. It will be carnage. FIFA will not want Spain finishing second because they will then play Brazil in the next round. The ref was cheating for Spain (total ridiculous penalty awarded) but it didn’t work. Holland were too good. So either Holland are going to have a number done on them by referees in the next couple of matches to allow Spain to win the group (obviously that will mean cheating for them against Chile too) OR Spain will be dumped from the preferred list and referees will ensure they go out. One thing I am sure of is that FIF will not want Brazil vs Spain in the next round.

  19. jayramfootball

    I was thinking the same thing, but, Chile will be more easier for the ref’s to manipulate in a Brazil match.

  20. Football just got even more corrupt….a member of the Blair family as an agent…..somehow that family and that job are made for each other

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