A dark cloud has descended over the beautiful game in recent weeks as several match-fixing scandals spread across the news.
As the days go by, more and more scandals are being brought to the public’s attention with former AC Milan player, Gattuso, the most recent high profile footballer to have allegedly been involved in match-fixing in Serie A.
This follows on from Sam Sodje, an ex Portsmouth player, telling an undercover reporter he could arrange yellow and red cards in exchange for money and Blackburn’s DJ Campbell being arrested along with six other people in connection with allegations of match and spot-fixing.
This is not the first time that a match-fixing scandal has plagued the world of football. Just in February of this year, Europol identified 380 matches in Europe which were claimed to have been fixed and a further 300 more around the world. Their investigation recognised 425 suspects and 50 people were arrested. There was even the allegation by a Turkish official that the Champions League, Europe’s most prestigious club competition, was fixed by using vibrating balls for the draw.
Match-fixing is a serious criminal problem which is a threat to the integrity and reputation of sport and is a growing concern within football. The commercialisation and globalisation of football has arguably transformed it into a marketable commodity, making it attractive for big investors who perceive it as an enterprise where money can be generated and footballing empires created. However, the presence of capitalism and commercialism in football has fuelled the proliferation of money making motives and match-fixing provides an opportunity for a lot of money to be made.
Out of the 380 suspicious European matches identified in the Europol investigation, more than €8m was generated in betting profits and more than €2m was paid in bribes. Footballers themselves can make money from it, especially through spot-fixing where they manipulate a certain aspect of the game. Players become greedy and therefore may happily accept money for arranging to help fix matches despite their large wage packets. Former Southampton player Matt Le Tissier admitted taking part in a bet which could have netted him £10 000 for kicking the ball out of play at a certain time in a premier league match against Wimbledon in 1995.
Match-fixing challenges and undermines the fundamental values which sport prides itself upon such as fair play, respect and honesty. Moreover, it sabotages the exciting and uncertain element of surprise that sport creates and so football is in danger of becoming a corrupt institution.
A leading FIFA official, Jerome Valcke, labelled match fixing a disease which could kill the sport if nothing is done to eradicate it. FIFA has recognised the threat that match fixing poses to the integrity of football and has recently launched a £17.5 million ten-year partnership with Interpol in a bid to combat it.
It is vital that this dark cloud is lifted but, as recent events demonstrate, more needs to be done to fight the ‘disease’ which is contaminating football before it kills the beautiful game.
Provided by stephen_medlock.