By Tony Attwood
Week after week we’ve complained that the FA and the Premier League refuse to investigate the possibility of match fixing, even when there is a raft of evidence to suggest something is going very wrong with some matches.
Now we find that The Football Association is failing to investigate match-fixing allegations even where detailed evidence has been handed over to them by Federbet, the international anti-corruption agency set up by the gambling industry to protect the integrity of football.
Our own protests are centred on a more difficult to prove field – one in which referees are “persuaded” to be more severe or more lenient on fouls, penalties etc, involving certain teams, in order to favour or discriminate against those teams, where clubs have influenced the referees in the way that has been done in Italy.
As we’ve always said we don’t have proof of referees being paid, but we have a range of findings which suggest something is going wrong. Minor changes (such as increasing the number of Premier referees, and having a more equal geographic spread of referees) could be made to refereeing arrangements at limited cost to tighten up the system – but nothing is done.
So now we find Federbet is being stonewalled, just as Untold and Referees Decisions are.
Federbet singled out ten English games last season and confirmed they were listed as ‘fixed’ because of huge changes in odds. The FA has refused even to look at the situation!
The games were in the Conference North, including Boston’s 3-2 defeat away to Brackley last November – a game Federbet says was allegedly rigged. They claimed that ludicrous amounts of money were bet on this relatively insignificant game on the Asian markets just prior to the game with many people betting that more than three goals would be scored during the match.
But despite this and nine other games in the Conference North and South being named in their report, the FA have not even managed to ask for evidence from Federbet on a single game.
Federbet’s General Secretary Francesco Baranca said: “They have not said anything to us. Very often the association does not want to see any problem. All the reactions, except the Spanish, say these things are not possible. But in the Conference North and South, there is a clear problem. All we can do is shout and say that, but we cannot force the association to take the accusations seriously. They are complaining about us instead. I am really little bit sad.”
The route of complain that the FA and other associations use is the European Sports Security Association, who complain that Federbet uses betting odds movements as the principal means of detecting match-fixing and that this approach is “not conclusive and prone to false results.”
This is true, and as they say, betting patterns don’t mean corruption any more than referees making many, many, many more mistakes against Arsenal than in Arsenal’s favour indicate that the ref is bent.
But they are indicators, and in virtually every other walk of life, indications are taken seriously. The fact that a man who is known to be very poor suddenly starts driving around in a Mercedes soft top sports car, doesn’t mean the guy has just stolen the car. But if there is no explanation at all as to how he got the car, other than his statement that a guy who he didn’t know drove up and said, “you look sad, I’m a good Samaritan, have my car” then that is no proof that he stole it, but I would hope the police might do some investigating.
So if Federbet says, these betting patterns on utterly obscure games are very odd, why on earth can’t the FA at least investigate? Likewise when Referees Decisions and Untold says, “here are a couple of referees whose decisions looked decidedly biased against Arsenal. And strangely Arsenal keep getting these refs in key matches” again there could be investigations.
The only explanation here is that the FA desperately want to keep any notion that there is anything wrong with English football, out of the media, and the media is by and large complying with this demand. (Well actually there is another explanation, and that is gross incompetence by the FA, but I don’t really want to accuse them of that.)
Where the papers will report possible wrong is when it involves foreigners, because as we know in England, foreigners are devilish creatures who can’t be trusted. At least that seems to be the view of many papers.
So the idea that officials connected to the Ghanaian FA were prepared to rig international friendlies is covered. Bigtime.
The Telegraph has alleged that Obed Nyantakyi had agreed, on a “trial basis”, to a contract that stated that a company would pay £100,000 for each match for which he had the right to appoint match officials. He denies the charge.
And yes they covered the the South African Football Association had been targeted in 2010 by match-fixers. A fifa report showed that “five matches and possibly more” had been fixed.
Last year Europol said more than 380 professional matches in Europe and more than 300 matches on other continents were under suspicion. Just this week two men from Singapore were found guilty of attempting to fix football matches in the UK.
Also this week Ralph Mutschke of Fifa, has said that the 3rd round of World Cup group stage matches are being targeted. He also confirmed that “between May 15 and June 11 we monitored 98 friendly matches and for any repercussions and there were no surprises on the betting market.”
But hush. Don’t tell the FA.