By Tony Attwood
As you may have read, in Belgium there has been a series of arrests at football clubs and elsewhere related to fraud and match fixing. These followed around 50 raids in Belgium and another raft in France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia.
Reports suggest that the Brugge coach Ivan Leko and a former official at Anderlecht are among those who were being questioned by police along with referees (yes referees), player agents, accountants and laywers, and of course journalists.
And I say “of course journalists” because this type of activity can only continue where journalists, editors and publishers are complicit in covering up what is going on.
In terms of what they arrested are believed to have been doing, it is the normal range of activities ranging from money laundering through football clubs, and match fixing.
Over 180 officials from the police departments of 36 countries were involved in the arrests.
As for the reasons for the fraud these are multiple. The amount of money sloshing around in football and moving about through transfer deals is huge and so illegal payments and tax fraud are inevitable. Plus the ease of organising Type III match fixing in countries with sloppy referee regulation means that people are bound to try it, and indeed the reports suggest that there may well have been match fixing during 2017/18. (See footnote for a description of the three types of match fixing)
Now as you will be aware we never have reports of anything like this in England. We have the most appalling situation with pedophiles having gained entrance to clubs posing as trainers – but that investigation which was supposed to have been rooting out everything that was amiss has been silent for the past two years. Stories relating to certain clubs having been infiltrated have just vanished.
We have occasional tales about matters being very amiss in the FA. I endlessly mention the Untold report of Sport England money being withdrawn from the FA, not just because it was a scandal that the FA had not used the money properly but because none of the media covered it in depth, and only one or two gave it a one line mention. It suggests we really are not being told what is going on.
We have the scandal of the millions of pounds tax payers money being spent on a bid for hosting the world cup in England, only to find we only got two votes (one was England’s). And now the FA are proposing to repeat the operation – with pretty much the same people running the bid as last time!!!
Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv
We have suggestions at the moment that all is not well with the Wembley stadium bid. And we have the Tax Payers Stadium fiasco. The last time I mentioned that a West Ham supporter wrote in and said surely it was better to have West Ham in the stadium under the present arrangements rather than no one, to which my answer is no – it would have been better never to have built the stadium, or having built it to have bulldozed it afterwards and turned the area into desperately needed social housing.
So yes there are scandals in England related to football at all levels, and yet … match fixing never comes up, and others that do get mentioned (from the FA not spending Sport England money properly through to pedophiles running youth academies) then just vanish.
And of course maybe that is because there is nothing to report. But there is one other thought. Given the way that the media refuses to deal with certain topics, could it be that the topic of match fixing is there, but never mentioned under agreement?
After all, the media won’t talk about
- The wholly unnecessary secrecy of PGMO (unnecessary at least if there is nothing to hide)
- The ease with which type III match fixing can be arranged
- The case of the withdrawal of Sport England money after it found the FA was misusing it
- The remarkable lack of referees in the PL which would aid the setting up of Type III match fixing if anyone wanted to do it
- The refusal of the media ever to criticise the performance of a referee or to engage in any meaningful and reliable statistical analysis of how well a referee did – an analysis of the type undertake in our 160 game review. After all if we could do it with our limited resources why can’t a newspaper?
- The refusal of PGMO to accept VAR this season although most other major league have it.
- The agreement of the broadcast media not to show or mention certain events in a match.
Which leads me to wonder. If there has been or currently is a scandal in English football akin to that in Belgium football, how would we ever find out? I rather suspect we wouldn’t (or haven’t) been told.
Footnote: Three types of Match Fixing
Type I: an interested party bribes a referee to ensure that Team A beats Team B. Very crude, easy to spot.
Type II: an interested party bribes a referee to ensure that Team A loses matches. Harder to spot since there could be any one of several interested clubs that arrange for Team A to lose, but still not too hard to see since it is always one club that is being hit.
Type III: a club owner bribes a number of referees and media outlets to help ensure that Teams B, C, D and E don’t win as many games as they might. This can be through no awarding a penalty near the end of the game, sending a player off who might otherwise have been yellow carded, giving dubious offsides, seeing a ball to arm as handball where others might not have given it. In this scenario there is no gambling on the outcome of specific games rather a desire by Team A that its rivals don’t do as well as they might. The ref’s influence might therefore occur only in every third or fourth game and be simply a disallowed goal or a couple of offsides – and it will be spread across a number of clubs. Type III fixing is stopped by ensuring that no referee ever referees a club more than twice in a single season, and by making the organisation of all things to do with refereeing open and transparent at all stages. This is the type of match fixing which was at the heart of the Calciopoli scandal in 2006 in Italy.
- Emery’s Arsenal EPL and Europa Winning Team, with Lozano, Pavon, Filipe Louis and Jardel
- Arsenal under unprecedented attack. To survive it is time to join the Resistance
- Arsenal are going to concede a shed full of goals soon, but it really doesn’t matter.