BBC BLOGS - Gordon Farquhar
« Previous | Main | Next »

How worried should we be about match-fixing in football?

Post categories:

Gordon Farquhar | 20:11 UK time, Monday, 9 May 2011

The problem I have with match-fixing in football is wondering how worried to be about it.

The sum of the information from Fifa house following their "summit" with Interpol is difficult to quantify.

On the one hand, the head of the investigation being carried out in Germany, commissioner Friedhelm Alhans, painted a depressing picture, with 300 suspicious games under scrutiny in an investigation that's seen 70 people arrested in Turkey, more than 20 in Croatia, and everything from international friendlies, a Champions League and some Europa Cup games, to lower league semi-pro matches under examination.

He says it's the "tip of the iceberg". Working on the literal principle, that means it's about 10 times worse than they already know about.

Yet, when Interpol's general secretary Ronald K Noble was pressed on the issue of how worried we should be, he sought to reassure, at least in part, saying he felt the major European leagues were clean, that spectators should have confidence. Asked specifically about our domestic leagues, he suggested there were no issues.

The messages remain mixed, however. Noble also spelled out how the fixers operate.
"Nothing new in it," he said. Find the weak and vulnerable, tempt them with enough money, and manipulate them, using violence if necessary. He managed to make the chilling reality sound as everyday as popping out for a pint of milk.

Everyone is in agreement that this is the work of organised criminal gangs. They fix matches, they traffic performance-enhancing drugs and deliberately target the $300bn (£183bn) worldwide sporting industry, because just a small slice of that is a fortune.

Much of the focus of the gangs, and now the football authorities, appears to be referees, especially where they are not fully professional. The money they make from 90 minutes with a whistle in their teeth is often a pittance compared with those they seek to stay in control of.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter spoke of the need for all referees to be professional, but even if you paid those in the top leagues £250,000 a year, they'd still be relative paupers compared to the players. Envy? Greed? Easy money? Those are the traits that the unscrupulous exploit.

Interpol's man made it clear the match fixers are working their angles because it's low risk - hardly any have ever been caught and the rewards are great. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggested perhaps well in excess of $100bn of the $300-$400bn sports betting industry is going on illegally, unregulated, invisible.

The 20m euros (£17m) Fifa has pledged to Interpol over the next 10 years to create its own football anti-corruption training wing at the police organisation's HQ in Singapore represents the largest single investment it has received from a private organisation, but it's a drop in the ocean to the criminals.

The German police reported they are sure that 1.7m euros (£1.5m) had been paid in bribes to third parties in the cases they're still investigating, and they seem sure there's much more going on we don't know about.

The criminals have the working capital, motive and opportunity they need. Yet the football authorities still managed last February to fail to ensure that two international games played between four different counties on the soil of a fifth were free from manipulation.

The games were set up by an agent that no-one seemed to check out, refereed by officials whose identity was unknown until just before kick-off, and even then disputed.

Several employed by the football associations involved said afterwards they thought the arrangements were a bit odd, yet failed to act.

Fifa now say they have a series of reforms to put to congress next month to tighten up their regulations, but as so often is the case, they are locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

So how worried should we be? You decide......

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    The games played this winter in Turkey, with seven goals between them, all from penalties? Nice.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's difficult to be really sure, but I must say that I started getting suspicious about a few goings on in a lot of sports.

    Horse Racing, including at least 5 Group I races in the past 6 years.

    Tennis: I lose count of the number of bagels in either a first or second set when the match miraculously gets decided on a 3rd set tie-break.

    You'd never prove it, but if you watched Arsenal vs Man City last year at the Emirates, you'd have been might suspicious about whether 0-0 at HT was agreed beforehand. I'm not saying it was, I'm saying the game was so funereal and lacking in chances that it made you wonder. The only thing which livened things up was Adebayor coming on as a sub to what might euphemistically be described as a 'not particularly welcome homecoming.'

    Certainly, if you looked at officials' decision-making in the two Arsenal-Barcelona ties this season, you could have suspicions. Clearly, Arsenal narrowly winning the first leg would have made for great TV in the second. But I'm not saying anything happened. I'm just saying Barca had some poor decisions first half which meant they hadn't killed the game off by half-time. Of course, Arsenal had some pretty terrible ones in the second leg too.

    I've reached a position where I am skeptical as to whether shelling out large amounts of money is worth it if you are going to the opera, not a sporting occasion.

    I'll leave it at that.........

  • Comment number 3.

    I think it would be naive to think that English leagues are clean. I well remember 1 match last year where I would not have been surprised to see an investigation if odd betting patterns had been reported. A referee's assistant "sees" a defender's hand-ball 2/3 of the way across the pitch with a crowd of players between him and the ball and awards a penalty. The referee had his whistle nowhere near his mouth until he saw the flag. Not long afterwards the same assistant does not see an attacker's handball just 1/4 of the way across the pitch from him with no-one between him and the ball incorrectlyallowing another goal. Both goals scored by the "underdogs" in the match. Suspicious - I certainly thought so.

  • Comment number 4.

    Very interesting article Gordon. We should have been very worried well before now though..

    Lots of themes that are reminiscent of material in Misha Glenny's book on Organised Crime in EEuropean countries and the clubs owned by oligarchs and mafia bosses.

    I remember an article last year on how the ref for the Roma v Dundee Utd European Cup Semi-Final in 1984 (?) was bribed to ensure the Italians won the tie. It merely reinforced the suspicisions of the Scottish side at the time.

    But in case you think its something that someone else does, even this year in the SPL there were irregular betting patterns reported in Liverpool around a Motherwell match against Hearts where a player was red carded.

    When you have a culture that allows you to bet on any permutation of events in sporting fixtures (e.g. the number of red cards) and the rewards are sufficiently high, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone is going to try and make a profit.

    The real issue is how pervasive the practice is.

  • Comment number 5.

    Very worrying suspicions and innuendos have been levelled towards Upton Park in involving 2 games this season. When you see what has occurred in cricket should we be surprised?

  • Comment number 6.

    And I wondered why sports betting is such a popular business...

  • Comment number 7.

    Match fixing is a massive problem and the teams in Italy convincted were deserved to be punished by a significant amount of points and in Juventus's case, relegation. I'm sure the big teams in UK match fix but no-one wants to announce it because it will be embarrasing for the team and for their supporters who actually thought their teams are doing well.
    I personally hope someone does investigate this as, although wages and finance are a problem in 21st Century football, match fixing is the lowest of the low. It is a problem which needs to be addressed and, as a Chelsea supporter, if I saw my team convicted of this massacre, I'd accept it. I hope Man. U, Arsenal supporters etc. accept this too.

  • Comment number 8.

    I don't think this comes as much of a surprise. From "you never get a penalty at their place" to "the ref's bottled it". Football stinks to high heaven and we, the punters are expected to put up with the status quo. I don't trust Fifa, I don't trust Uefa and I don't trust the premierleague.

    When you have the amount of money knocking about in football these days, you are going to attract unscrupulous characters. And whilst the current mob at Fifa are running the game, it will continue to be dirty. I am just glad that it is starting to come out.

    From Fifa's refusal to use technology (think about it..) to the mysterious timing system where added minutes are plucked form thin air, depending on who is winning and who the home team is. Lets face it, football is easy to manipulate in its current form. It needs a drastic overhaul.

    Interpol would get a lot of answers in Switzerland if they raided a certain office there...

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    I love how everyone thinks the English leagues are clear yet pull endless examples of foreign leagues to make them evil.

    People say the SPL is doggy with two teams winning it - yet the English league is double the size and only four teams are realistic to win it. It is no different, it's just double the size.

    If any league is fixed, it's English. Too much money for it not to be influenced. It's like people claiming propaganda from war enemies yet believing our Governments don't lie to us constantly to keep us in line.

    Stupidity and naivity.

  • Comment number 11.

    There have been so many things said, recently, regarding corruption and match fixing in football. There is a lot of data that has come out: countries, leagues, corruptors, etc.

    And yet, we read an abstract with a notion about a few £m that FIFA has allocated to see an Interpol wing organised to fight match fixing.

    I really hate joining those guys who have a go at journalists but is the author pleased with his work?

  • Comment number 12.

    We all know that the fixing of matches has gone on for years. Whether that be the "Sheff Wed instance of the 60's" . The Juventus v Derby County European Cup Semi Final of 1973.....Anyone remember the Anderlecht v Nottingham Forest UEFA Cup semi Final 1984? These were all proven..............


    Most recently the 2002 World Cup in Japan & Korea.........Are we really to expect in South Korea v Italy and Spain that there was not something more "dark" going on?

  • Comment number 13.

    10. At 23:15pm 9th May 2011, funkyjesus wrote:
    People say the SPL is doggy with two teams winning it - yet the English league is double the size and only four teams are realistic to win it. It is no different, it's just double the size.

    ------------

    In fact only three teams have won the Premier League since Blackburn in 1995, so if anything it's worse in England.

    If there does turn out to be some kind of match-fixing going on, I really hope the governing bodies take appropriate action. Immediate relegation, ban from European competition if applicable, colossal fines and criminal sentences for the involved parties, at the very least. And by colossal fines I mean enough to make the club have to sell all of its star players so that returning to the same level quickly will be an almost impossible task. Or maybe instead of just relegation the team should be kicked out of the football league. Make 'em start from the UHU-Stick Northern League, or whatever it's called that far down the ranks.

  • Comment number 14.

  • Comment number 15.

    I really want to accuse everyone here of being conspiracy toting nut cases but I know that too often football has proven that unscrupulous characters hold too much influence.

    As a Rangers fan I immediately think of a Marseille team proven to have been mired in so much match fixing. It still hurts.

    We need a clean up and soon.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Refereeing standards are bad enough without having to worry whether they are taking a back-hander!

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    If the motivating factor is money, why would the EPL be clean? It's a fact that the EPL is one of the richest if not the richest league in the world and definitely the 'fixers' would want a part of it. Watching the EPL this season I am convinced more than ever before that the EPL is fixed!! A few games come to mind, Arsenal/New Castle, Arsenal/Liverpool, Man U/Everton and Chelsea/Spurs.

  • Comment number 20.

    @ 13, sheffieldharry,

    You will perhaps be disappointed to learn, when data available comes out, that English leagues are not in the frame of where corruption and match fixing allegations are examined.

  • Comment number 21.

    Match fixing is something to be looked in the broad sense and not just about the betting.Talking about protection of big teams,the FA Cup that small teams are somehow getting a replay at a big venue,big teams fielding weak sides on certain games (CL- Barcelona losing at home),betting ,keeping teams in the league etc.
    Anybody remembers the Harry saga resigning from Southampton and going to Portsmouth one week later?Southampton made a complaint and there were millions of pounds going on bets about it.
    In Italy,Greece,Turkey we know by the result if it is fixed ,in the EPL there are suspicious results but not a lot of people thinks like that.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'd be amazed if the players were not trying to affect side bets they have on the games that they are involved in.

    Matthew LeTissier has already admitted that he was part of it:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/s/southampton/8236108.stm

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    19. At 06:54am 10th May 2011, classof49unbeatenrun wrote:

    If the motivating factor is money, why would the EPL be clean? It's a fact that the EPL is one of the richest if not the richest league in the world and definitely the 'fixers' would want a part of it.
    ---------------------

    Money is the motivating factor yes but that money is what can be made from match fixing, not the money in the league itself.

    Truth is that yes there is more to be made by fixing the bigger leagues but the risk of exposure is so much greater that is simply is not worh the rewards.

    Targetting smaller leagues makes much more sense, anyone who needs to be bribed can be swayed by much cmaller sums of money, players and officials at those levels are unlikely to have had or may have great careers that they could be risking, scrutiny by media and cameras is mcuh lower.

    I'm not saying there isn't corruption in big leagues, undoubtedly someone somewhere always takes a chance but it's unlikely to be anything more than a few solitary cases involving a few people, not some great conspiracy linked to organised crime.

    And some of you need to remember that not all poor decisions are the result of match fixing and indeed not all cases of match fixing are even illegal or immoral. The example of both teams needing a draw and ending 0-0 is a classic one, there is absolutely no difference between that and a game where a struggling teams puts 11 men behind the ball to try and scrape a draw.

  • Comment number 25.

    Could we really trust a partisan media if there was corruption.

  • Comment number 26.

    The only experience we've had here was the Peter Swan affair in 1963/4.

    That was a scam that started in the lower leagues, targetting bookmakers with fixed-odds coupons for exact results.

    Amazingly enough, when referees were then paid expenses only, not a single ref needed to be investigated in all that & at a time when the maximum wage for players had only just been abolished.

    This you've blogged on is totally different & that's why I worry. This is one complacent country, we always think it can't happen here.

    And who do you think runs football here? Not the FA, not the Football League, not the Premier League, but the sponsors-Sky Sports.

    Ask them if their viewing figures would suffer if Man U had been allowed to romp away with the Title in recent weeks. And then ask if that's why we've been denied 5 stonewall pens across our last 4 games.

    It could be coincidence, just like Chelsea's opponents being denied 3 stonewall pens across 2 crucial games at the tail-end of last season, which would have swung the title back to us.

    The FA will never investigate it-where else is THEIR income derived from-not saying they are being paid to keep quiet, but as long as the EPL is a viewing success, all the organisations running our game are happy, because the cash is flowing.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think teams have agreed to fix games since the first league was created. I remember a game some years back in Spain between Valladolid and Celta, last day of the season. With a draw, one side avoided relegation and secured a play-off against a second tier team and the other side would be safe altogether. It ended 0-0 with not much happening all day. They could have played 900 minutes and the boxes would have remained untouched still. Then there was a case with a game involving Betis and Malaga in the 80s. They thought a draw would save them both, Betis for sure and Malaga if hercules failed to beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. The game in malaga ended 1-1, but Hercules indeed won in Madrid, sending Malaga down in front of their own crowd.

    A peculair case happened in Argentina's second division some years back. Because they have 2 leagues a season (Opening and Closure) they promote the winner of each league. If the same team happens to win both leagues, then they have to look into the best second palced or something alike. I don't remember the names of the sides, but let's say Team A had won the first league, while Team B wasleading the second league. Team A would win the second league if they beat Team C very comfortably (by a ridiculouis margin) which team C profiting from their own defeat if they lost. Duid they lose? You bet.

    All this is not illegal, though. It "just" goes agaisnt the spirit of sport, but it is playing the rules. Malaga and Betis, Valladolid and Celta, needn't sit down and agree a draw. All of them knew the score was good enough and just didn't have to risk it.

    Another practice a bit darker but also very well extended is paying a team to beat your rival (.i.e West Ham, Wigan, Blackpool paying cash to players of the teams that play against their relegation rivals so they are still motivated when they have nothing to play for). It is well known that when Deportivo lost the league after Djukic missed a penalty at home against Valencia, the Valencia players were "motivated" by Barcelona. You would not understand otherwise the joy in the Valencia keeper, as the score would mean nothing to them. It is not a nice practice, but they were not paying anybody to allow themselves to get beaten, but to win, which they have to try anyway. Many players say this should be made open as they don't see anything wrong with getting a bonus even if from another club.

    It is a lot darker when you get to talk to players to damage their own team (there was the%2

  • Comment number 28.

    25. At 10:48am 10th May 2011, TVOR wrote:

    Could we really trust a partisan media if there was corruption.

    ---------------------------------------

    No.

  • Comment number 29.

    DEIGO-UK

    It also went on here before the Swan case.

    Right back in 1949, Leicester were struggling to stay in the 2nd tier & needed a draw to stay up in their last game. Cardiff, their opponents, needed a draw to get into the talent money for finishing 3rd or 4th-they couldn't have won promotion.

    15 mins or so from the end,Cardiff scored. Everyone was shocked. So, when Leicester got a corner with 3 mins left, no Cardiff player jumped to defend it & Leicester equalised!

    And who do you think was watching the game, as Leicester's young star but injured?

    DON REVIE!

    The fact the authorities never nailed him or Leeds for their widespread bribery tells you all you need to know about the effectiveness of our systems in policing corruption in football.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ 7

    Well no i wouldn't accept it....i'd be very, very......**annoyed. If i found out that the club I've been supporting has been fixing matches I wouldn't bother with the sport any more.

    If you mean by accept it, that I don't throw the blame somewhere else, then fine...... but I wouldn't bother with football anymore

  • Comment number 31.

    The Arsenal v Newcastle match which ended 4-4 springs to mind. There were some truly bizarre refereeing decisions in that match - all in the second half and all in favour of the same team.

  • Comment number 32.

    It goes on here. I play non-league football in Scotland. I remember a few years back one of the lads who had links to players at professional teams told the rest of the boys to stick all our spare cash on a certain team in a meaningless end of season, lower division game. Result? 1-0 as predicted, game decided by a terrible error by the centre half. I believe the betting on that one was investigated as there was a large amount placed in Germany, but nothing came of it.

  • Comment number 33.

    Shd be very worried but worrying isnt going to do anything.

    Bent Refs

    Bent bosses

    Bent Chairmen

    Bent Lino's

    Bent players

    Bent broadcasters

    Bent whoever else you want to mention.

    Where there's money there's corruption. Where there are sackloads of it, theres a stack of corruption. Its a 'rule' of life.

  • Comment number 34.

    Its very naive view to think that the EPL is whiter than white.

    You just have to look back to the likes of Grobbelaar, Segars and Fash who were accused of match fixing back in 1994, they all got cleared of it but the evidence was pretty damning.

    Surely since then the betting syndicates etc have become smarter in their ways and throw in the fact that a lot of players are in the game for the money and have little loyalty its a recipee for disaster.

  • Comment number 35.

    The talk of match fixing will never go away, As a previous poster noted, the spectrum of sport's betting has got out of hand in my opinion with the rise of internet betting, in game betting, things like how many yellow cards, whether the no9 picks his backside in the last 10 mins is frankly worrying..not only for the world of sport but also for those who like to gamble.

    There are many cases in the past, Marseille 92, Roma 84, that have been well publicised. Maybe these stick in my mind more due the involvence of Scottish clubs, but what about when teams play for a 0-0 draw upon learning results in other matches. Germany v Austria in the World Cup depriving I think Algeria a place and more recently i believe there was a CL gropu game a few years ago involving Sturm Graz(In a group with Rangers) which involved opposing players simply playing one-two's with each other. All these case barr the Germany v Austria had no consequences, Marseille still picked up CL trophy, Roma still go to final. Anderlecht publicly admitted bribing also!!!

    Lastly I would like to comment on the fact the in Spain, is it not 'legal' to bribe a team to 'win' as silly as it may sound, I'm sure I have heard of cases where this has been done, maybe the bribe money was to temporarilly sign a player or something which may be a tad hard now giving transfer windows etc....

  • Comment number 36.

    @ Diego_Uk

    Just got the answer i was looking for by reading your post.

  • Comment number 37.

    What is the point on this article. It delivers no new information and is just about word for word the same article that appeared on the BBC Sport website 3 months ago.

  • Comment number 38.

    "19. At 06:54am 10th May 2011, classof49unbeatenrun wrote:
    If the motivating factor is money, why would the EPL be clean? It's a fact that the EPL is one of the richest if not the richest league in the world and definitely the 'fixers' would want a part of it. Watching the EPL this season I am convinced more than ever before that the EPL is fixed!! A few games come to mind, Arsenal/New Castle, Arsenal/Liverpool, Man U/Everton and Chelsea/Spurs.

    "


    Don't forget Arsenal/Portsmouth in the Invincibles season!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    Correction Grobelaar wasn't convicted of corruption but the high courts gave him 1 quid damages after one newspaper printed the allegations.

  • Comment number 41.

    It is not just the 'big' games that you should be worried about. I was involved in the game when in the UK and on the team coach on the way to our first away game of the season I was told what the score would be for one of the last games of the season in a different league. Needless to say, it occured but thankfully it was investigated. This was a 'meaningless' game with no promotion/relegation involved but what it did do, is enable some of the players to have some extra money during the close season when they were on reduced contracts.

    On the other hand, another game that was investigated was just due to the betting companies ignorance of the lower leagues. It was common knowledge that a certain team was going to pretty much fold and have to field youth team players at a weekend fixture, lots of money was put on the game for the away team. Needless to say, with the final score at 0-9 and the Betting companies shouting foul play, this was not the case, they just hadn't bothered to keep in touch with what was going on with the teams in the league.

  • Comment number 42.

    I do not claim to know if there is corruption in England, but it would not surprise me. I played in France in the 1980s and I know for certain that our club "bought" the final game of the season to ensure promotion to the French 3rd Division. This was unrelated to betting, but it happened. Read the book "The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy". "Casual corruption" exists. The juxtaposition of betting and sport in the UK provide the perfect petri dish for infection. Don't expect human nature to shy away from the opportunity to make money by illegal means.
    It has already been proven to exist in cricket. Why not football?
    Pete Rose was banned for life in US baseball simply for betting on a baseball game. We may need to start looking at a separation of the game and the betting.

  • Comment number 43.

    Whenver the subject comes up I always think back to the numerous 'gaffes and clangers' that have resulted in own goals, penalties, etc, etc.

  • Comment number 44.

    George, happy to help

    In Spain the, let's call it, "bonus to win" is not legal. To start with, it has a tax implication as it shoul go in the payroll of the players. And since you an only be paid by your employer, it should be the club that hires the players that pays the bonus and ten invoice the "giving club". In the example, Valencia should have paid the bonus to its players in the payroll and then bill Barcelona for.... a hard to explain reason!

    So it is prosecuted and ilegal due to money laundry... Well, it should be prosecuted but it has never been. Every other club does it, and with 10 teams still involved in the relegation struggle in Spain with 3 gamesto go there is plenty of cash moving around.

    Real Madrid lost twice the league in Tenerife in the last day. On both occasions, Tenerife had te win bonus by Barcelona (it was hilarious seeing a tenerife player running to celebrate their win asking a journalist what the Barcelona score was, sthey would have no cash if Barcelona failed their game). One of these games Real Madrid led 0-2, had a third ruled out god knows why (scored by Luis Milla) and then collpased to a 3-2 loss. On the second one, the following season, the score was 2-0 for Tenerife after 3 appaling referee decisions. I do not want to say the referees were bought those days, they could have been genuine errors (some odd to believe) but...

    I mention Luis Milla because his case was a lot more serious than this win bonus. He said on a radio interview a Barcelona player (team he had played fr before joining Madrid) had offered him money to commit a penalty if Madrid were ahead. It was never prooved, it was never propely investiagted either.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    #46 Flash

    I think the consipracy Spain-Russia failed from the start. Spain (and don't forget co-host Portugal) had invested a lot of money to host the 2018 world cup. Why would Portugal withdraw to help Spain win the 2010 World Cup? and what if, as it happened, they were to meet in the tournament? Spain and Portugal went ahead with their bid, and Lord Trishaman failed to eliminate their two main rivals for the European hosted tournament (This same Lord Tirshman is today blaming corrputed FIFA members rather than assuming the Enlgand bid failed on arrogance - though this is not the issue)

    You would also remember an English referee (Howard Webb) allowed a Swiss goal on off-side and didn't give a penalty to Spain on the first day, and he did permit a bit more than a manly, viril approach to the game from the Dutch in the final. The ref in the Spain-Paraguay game made a penalty scored by Spain retaken, and when it was missed Fabregas was fouled by the keeper when chasing the ball and the ref ignored it... Spain hardly had any help to win in South Africa.

    --- ---

    I would like to insist on the difference between a score that suits both teams and a fixed match. The Austria-Germany game was probably fixed, as though the result (0-1 for West Germany after 10 minutes) would see both sides through, Austria would be second and in theory had a tougher group. Why accept it? Well, they did

    Snce then (and supported by the Argentina'78 world cup, when Argentina knew a 4-0 win over Peru would take them to the final before kick-off) FIFA ruled the last group games would be played at the same time.

    I have read a compliation of football tales and real stories by Spanish-language writers. In the book there was a case of a mexican second division side that was about to gain promotion to the top flight. The chairman of the club old the coach he should lose the promotion, as they were not based in the Mexico City area and all the travelling costs would be too high for them and for the rest of the clubs. I can't recall if the case is true, but that would be a match fixing of the worst kind.

  • Comment number 48.

    South Korea v Italy in the 2002 World cup....nuff said

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    rjaggar suggests that 5 group 1 races in the last 6 years were fixed - i suggest he is talking out of his pocket rather than from a reasoned evidence based standpoint.
    Or would the contributor like to share his wisdom with us and name the races in question

  • Comment number 51.

    we all know that fixing, in one form or another, is rife in sports as a result of the vast sums of money changing hands in the betting markets - most obviously in India and Pakistan judging by the cricket.

    The problem is more down to the "underground", "illegal", "dodgy" bookmakers rather than the likes of Ladbrokes, William Hill et al.

    The biggest problem is obviously greed, pure and simple. After all, how much money is "enough"? There will always be those who, no matter their earnings, want more.

    The one big problem is the officials, who all earn peanuts in comparison to the players and managers of whatever sport it happens to be.

    I am not saying that officials are corrupt, or eve that some are, simply that some may be and they would be the easiest to tempt.

    In football, referees and assistats have always made mistakes, and always will. They are only human. Some mistakes may even be due to an unconscious bias towards one team, while there may be something more sinister about other decisions.

    With TV cameras everywhere, and every incident replayed in slow motion over and over, it serves only to highlight these mistakes - many of which may have been missed by everyone in years gone by.

    A poor performance by officials can - and often does - afect the outcome of a match, and always has. The difference is that now we wonder about whether the were "honest" mistakes or mistakes made for money.

    The other big problem is the every increasing type of bet that a punter can place.

    Football, being a team sport, is very difficult for a single individual player to affect the outcome of "to order".

    However, as an example, when a punter ca bet on whether or not there will be a penalty in the 2nd half it is simple for a player - who has been paid off - to ensure he gives away a penalty in the second half. How is anyone to prove that it was his intention to give away a penalty?

    This is just one small example. There are just so many ways in which an individual player is able to "do something to order" for payment. What that player does may, or may not, affect the outcome of the match. However the outcome of the match is not necessarily the point, but the single incident itself.

    Will it ever be stamped out? Unfortunately I doubt it.

    Will it get worse? Unfortunately this is not doubted.

  • Comment number 52.

    20. At 07:42am 10th May 2011, Football_UK wrote:
    @ 13, sheffieldharry,

    You will perhaps be disappointed to learn, when data available comes out, that English leagues are not in the frame of where corruption and match fixing allegations are examined.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not being in the frame when certain data is being used does not equate to ''not guilty''. It all depends on what data is being used and what outcome one wants to find in a study.

    It's not possible to accurately scientifically analyse something as intangible as this.

    As someone who bets on a wide-range of world football, I can assure you, from my personal experience at least, that there have been a number of matches - in the Premier League alone - where illogical betting patterns on a particular market have ''coincidentally'' been fruitful to those who would have followed the market.

    In fact, a couple of my comments on another blog here were moderated because I was a little too explicit in naming a couple of recent PL matches where one could construe a strong slant from the referee in favour of one particular outcome.


    What people need to realise is that match-fixing is unlikely to mean that the actual result of a game has been pre-determined.

    The vast majority of match-fixing goes well under the radar, without anyone being able to notice.

    Just like ''spot-fixing'' in cricket, similar scenarios in football will regularly play out in all league around the world, with nobody - other than those involved - being any the wiser.

    The problem with football is that there are so many innocent examples of poor officiating and howlers from the players, that the nature of the game provides a perfect cover for those less than innocent mistakes.







  • Comment number 53.

    Sports fixing is quite depressing, but has been around for ever. I think it was the Malaysian league which was suspended as each week half of each team was being paid to lose. The other half would be paid the following week. Would have made for quite exciting games I reckon.

    When talking about dodgy gambling related sporting cases, it amazes me that no-one mentions "Botham's Ashes" - the Aussie players puting bets on themselves to lose at 500 - 1? Come on...seriously?

  • Comment number 54.

    There clearly is a problem and none of us know how big it is. The first time I remember a case of obvious match fixing was in the 1978 World Cup finals when Argentina had to beat Peru by five or six goals to make it into the final at the expense of Brazil and they duly did this. I was only 13 years old at the time and it was clear even to me that something odd happened that day. So this is not a new problem and it is silly to think that any league is unaffected. Indeed, the leagues with the most money are sure to be the highest on the target list.
    The answer is to make it so that the temptation is removed. Clearly, allowing even the clubs to have control of such large sums of money is not working and it would be much healthier for all concerned if the money generated by the game, at all levels, was controlled by an independent panel to be distributed for the benefit of the game as a whole and not individual clubs or players. Players should be made to see out their contracts and then at the end they are free to negotiate new contracts with their existing clubs and/or new ones. This would end the need for transfer fees, where I believe most of the abuse occurs. Apart from their own marketing, merchandising and gate receipt income, which each club generates and therefore should keep, all other sources of income should go to an independent body for the good of the game. This would include all TV revenues from the Premier League and Football League and then this should be re-distributed to all 92 league clubs much more evenly than it currently is.

  • Comment number 55.

    For some reason my comment on Lillee betting against himself in "Botham's Ashes" isn't fit for public consumption...WHY NOT BBC?

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm a little disgusted that the BBC has moderated me for bringing this up, so here's a link to the Guardian
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2001/aug/13/cricket.comment
    Shame on you BBC, shame.

  • Comment number 57.

    56. At 14:32pm 10th May 2011, artshade wrote:
    I'm a little disgusted that the BBC has moderated me for bringing this up, so here's a link to the Guardian
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2001/aug/13/cricket.comment
    Shame on you BBC, shame.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think that, understandably, the BBC are very wary of any post that could potentially cause any legal complications. This leads to some cases of over-zealous moderating, but I can understand why they do so.

    I think that it was probably a case of people being unaware that it's quite well-documented that Lillee and Marsh openly backed England at long odds.

    I had my first post in this thread expunged, presumably because I quoted the text of another post that has since been removed.


    I think that topics of this nature are difficult to discuss because every time we post it's like walking on eggshells.

  • Comment number 58.

    #54 Mark

    You cannot remove transfer fees. Imagine Leyton orient have the new Messi... whn he sees out his contract he will join Arsenal, Madrid, Milan, Barcelona, Bayern or hoever he wants, and Orient will get nothing for him. On the other hand, with transfer fees, Orient can sell him for the highest bid before his contract ends.

    Then again you would find a way to break the contract. Employees only have to give notice to their employers, and pay a ompensation if they don't want to serve this notice period. In Spain, the notice period for a footballer is his contract and the compensation is the release fee.

    And if that does not work, how about a payment in undeclared, untaxable cash to some club official to release the player in question?

  • Comment number 59.

    Artshade/Soulpatch - long odds? I remember on day four of the test, odds quoted as high as 500 to 1! Those are unbelievable odds no matter what stage in a match you happen to be in. I was still gutted I never put a fiver on it although probably a little young as a teenager;)

  • Comment number 60.

    Aren't transfer fees meant to just be the value of the remaining term of the players contract?

    Unless Ronaldo was getting paid £15m per year by Man Utd, how was he worth £80m?

  • Comment number 61.

    Go back and have a look how many times Manchester United have either drawn a Premiership team or a team that will guarantee high viewing (like non-league Exeter or Championship Leeds.) in the last 15 years of the FA Cup. The phrase 'warm balls' springs to mind.

  • Comment number 62.

    24. At 10:29am 10th May 2011, hackerjack wrote:

    Targetting smaller leagues makes much more sense, anyone who needs to be bribed can be swayed by much cmaller sums of money, players and officials at those levels are unlikely to have had or may have great careers that they could be risking, scrutiny by media and cameras is mcuh lower.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It's a question of risk v profits.

    It may be more difficult to fix a match in a top European league, firstly, because of the money that players in these leagues earn, and, secondly, because these leagues are high-profile and will be more open to scrutiny.

    With this in mind, it would be much safer to engineer a fix in some untelevised, far-flung lower league match where there's only a couple of hundred spectators to witness it.

    However, most betting companies set limits on how much you can bet on matches. The amount that you can bet becomes lower and lower depending to how obscure and low-profile the league or match is.

    With the advent of betting exchanges, it means that, with millions bet on each games in major leagues, the more high-profile the match, the more likelihood to win a lot of money.

    This is why, as I say, it's a question of risks v profits. Make small profits with lower risks ( obscure leagues ), or make big profits with higher risks ( CL, PL, La Liga, Bundesliga etc. ).









  • Comment number 63.

    As the response to this blog shows, we are almost all aware that sport is rife with corruption. Horse racing, snooker, tennis and cricket are quite laughably fixed, especially in 'lesser' tournaments or matches when the media and public focus isn't quite as pronounced.

    With regards to football. In the last handful of years alone we've seen the Italian 'Calcipoli' scandal, the rigged games in Germany, the Turkish seven-penalty match and announcements from ex-pros that 'side bets' happen all the time. And those are just the ones that have come to light and/or been proved.

    Is the PL fixed? Well, the sheer money involved means that the temptation for the crooks (and the moderately paid referees) is greater BUT the incredible amount of people that watch the PL across the world and are involved in the running and marketing and promotion of the PL, means it would be more difficult to get away with it. It would also now be tougher to bribe PL players, as they don't need the money as much as, say, second division players in Romania, or wherever.

    Mmm. Difficult to know. The very nature of the 'English' game, all high-energy, work-rate and (generally) open, attacking football means that a 'rigged' game would be that much easier to spot.

    It's easier to rig matches in Italy (which still happens at all levels) because the slower, more tactical nature and less physical nature of the game there means that matches often genuinely involve more possession football, far more free-kicks and penalties and less other goalmouth incidents.

    No-one will ever convince me that South Korea's passage to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup wasn't 'assisted' in some way. The decisions they got in their favour versus both Italy and Spain, as well as in the group games, were ludicrous and way beyond normal refereeing errors.

    The sad fact is though that any sport takes it lead from the men and women in charge and here we have FIFA....

    I say no more.

  • Comment number 64.

    38. At 12:41pm 10th May 2011, United Dreamer wrote:

    Don't forget Arsenal/Portsmouth in the Invincibles season!!!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think that the Pires ''penalty'' was just a case of the ref falling for the cheating, simulation - call it what you will - of the player. I don't consider that decision to be ''improper'' ( to use the words of Lord Triesman :p ).

    It's the same with the ''foul'' on Mascherano in the Champions League Semi Final, 2nd leg game; a decision which led to Real Madrid subsequently having a goal disallowed. Mascherano, with the help of 95,000+ fans, conned the referee into awarding an offence that never happened.

    Corruption and incompetence usually have very similar results.



  • Comment number 65.

    63. At 15:36pm 10th May 2011, truevillain wrote:

    No-one will ever convince me that South Korea's passage to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup wasn't 'assisted' in some way. The decisions they got in their favour versus both Italy and Spain, as well as in the group games, were ludicrous and way beyond normal refereeing errors.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think that the suspicion over South Korea's progress in 2002 is largely down to conspiracy theorist revisionists.

    I challenge you and others, without the aid of youtube highlights, to tell us what major decisions the South Koreans were beneficiaries of in those two games.

    Off the top of my head, I remember Christian Vieri being erroneously flagged offside before scoring a second ''goal'' for Italy, and I think it was Joaquin crossing a ball in to Morientes in extra-time, only for the linesman to inaccurately adjudge the ball to have gone out of play before the cross.

    The fact of the matter is, without 9 years of revisionist history, that Italy played the price for their tactic of scoring early on and sitting on their lead for the rest of the match, while Spain were outplayed for prolonged swathes of that quarter-final.

  • Comment number 66.

    Match fixing or useless officialls, you decide? FA Cup final ,Hyppia saved a goal both officials missed it, ghost goal in Championship, vidic not being sent off in cup final. Can go on. Or even Schwarzer last night(off night in every sense of the word) Almunia on a consistent basis(on second thoughts he is just useless.)

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    #65

    Cock up vs conspiracy? As you say both have similar results and there is a recognition in football of human error: officials can get it wrong.

    I do remember these games and the series of poor ref decisions that were the focus of complaints afterwards by the Italians and Spanish. I also remember commenting to a SKorean pal at the time that the refs were 'homers', at which she was absolutely appalled. Fortunately for me I lived to tell the tale.

    Well worth pointing out to everyone that the backdrop to the ref appointments at these stages of this tournament was a FIFA initiative (which was never repeated in later tournaments) to deliberately appoint officials from second and third world nations. John McBeth from the Scottish Football Asociation was responsible for the appointments: a man later falsely ousted at FIFA after he opposed the St Jack Warner!!

    I doubt John McBeth would have had any truck whatsoever with conspiracy but the appointments lend weight to both camps: officials from poorer countries officiating matches in a betting crazy home nation may have been more likely to be suseptible to influence; but they would also be less experienced and more likely to cock-up.

    But if it was a 'conspiracy' might we also have expected the Italians to get there first?!!!

  • Comment number 69.

    Many years ago, a Portuguese referee, Francisco Marques Lobo, reported that someone attempted to bribe him.
    UEFA bungled it then and they'll bungle it again.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think there is some match fixing going on in football. And I think there is one man who has hinted at it, or that something dark at least is going on. That man is Rafa Benitez.

    In his interview with Focus` Dan Walker, Rafa said that football is just one big lie. He would not go into detail, but I wonder why he would say this? He obviously knows something, but I am sure that it would be almost impossible for him to reveal anything as it would surely incriminate certain individuals, clubs, or organisations. But I would love to know what he knows. Any chance of the BBC getting another interview with him? It would be very brave of him if he told the world the truth. Let`s hope that one day the truth comes out.

    PS Dalglish has to get the manager`s job, if not, the owners will not get a better man.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    Having thought about it, I'm starting to suspect there may have been something amiss in Chelsea-Spurs the other day. But then, maybe as a Spurs fan I'm just a tad bitter that we lost to two "goals" that shouldn't have stood and now look very likely to miss out on the Champions' League next season, and instead Chelsea got a chance to take the title fight down to the wire, even if they blew it a week later. Maybe Sky orchestrated it to boost figures for the game that was more or less the title decider. Wouldn't put it past Murdoch...

  • Comment number 73.

    It aint conspiracy, though look at home many unexplained last minute ref changes there are a year in the premiership


    by even only the law of averages there are bad refs.

  • Comment number 74.

    The premier league might not be fixed but it is so boring, very predictable. Manchester United have won 13 of the last 19 titles. Thats a monopoly considering the league has 20 participants.

    I stopped watching long ago.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Most matches have a bit of "match fixing" inside them. Even big games. Ever had the feeling that too many cards came out of the pocket? Ever seen a goal that quite clearly was not a goal? Ever seen strikers from bigger clubs get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to offsides?

  • Comment number 77.

    "70. At 17:59pm 10th May 2011, Robokopthe3rd wrote:
    I think there is some match fixing going on in football. And I think there is one man who has hinted at it, or that something dark at least is going on. That man is Rafa Benitez.

    In his interview with Focus` Dan Walker, Rafa said that football is just one big lie. He would not go into detail, but I wonder why he would say this? He obviously knows something, but I am sure that it would be almost impossible for him to reveal anything as it would surely incriminate certain individuals, clubs, or organisations. But I would love to know what he knows. Any chance of the BBC getting another interview with him? It would be very brave of him if he told the world the truth. Let`s hope that one day the truth comes out.

    "

    Don't know why you ever got rid of Rafa - noone epitomises the paranoia of a Liverpool fan quite like Rafa did!

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    I have no idea why my comment has been referred for further consideration, as I stated nothing but facts, and backed up my opinion (Which was in no way defamatory), with links.

    Am I not even allowed to challenge one posters comment which stated Juventus "deserved" to be demoted in 2006, despite strong evidence refuting that claim?

  • Comment number 81.

    I am certain that this is one of the reasons that Fifa do not want to introduce TV technology in football. It would make match fixing much harder, as one TV replay would cancel out a refs "decision". There is a lot of money involved, and it would be naive of us to think that Fifa & Uefa do not get their share.

    This is just a publicity stunt by Fifa to try and be seen as the good guys. The only good solution to match fixing is including TV replays for decison making. Until this happens, it will continue to happen on a large scale and there will be nothing anyone can do about it.

  • Comment number 82.

    It's very difficult for a referee to actually control the outcome of a game, though he can certainly influence it. Phantom penalties or no calls can only happen if the situation exists in the first place. Likewise with offside goals. That said, with so much money involved I believe there is a lot of influence. My biggest concern is the number of bad fouls and general lack of sportsmanship which goes unpunished. I'm not so concerned about gangsters as I am about the media and I often think refs are soft on players because it wouldn't be so good for the ratings if they got red cards too early in the game. I've reffed at local and youth level and on more than one occasion been told by tournament organizers "we don't want to see any red cards in this game - talk to the players - but keep them on the field because we don't want the crowd/families getting upset". I'm sure the same thing happens at the top level. If the laws of the game were applied by the book, few games would finish with 22 players on the field! Grudge games between teams who traditionally "hate" each other are played up heavily and eagerly anticipated with open wallets by the media because those situations draw crowds of viewers, which enables TV stations to sell advertising and sponsorships - and of course they pour big money back into the game. Howard Webb's lack of red cards in the World Cup final illustrate it perfectly. It was the same when McEnroe was causing a storm at Wimbledon - he should have been thrown out but he was good for the crowd and the TV audience, so sportsmanship (and the rules) took a back seat.

  • Comment number 83.

    There's already widespread, demonstrable corruption throughout the game - it's called diving. Why should anyone be surprised when other forms of corruption occur?

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.