The Rise Of Match Fixing in Football

Poipet, an Online Gambling Hub in Cambodia
Poipet, an Online Gambling Hub in Cambodia

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once said one group of people he feared in the World is the Referees. In contemporary times, cases of organised sports fixing has been on the rise. When a match is played to a completely or partially pre- determined result, often times by violating the rules of the game or the laws, match fixing could be said to have taking place.
The most recent case of match fixing, happened in Singapore where a business man has been charged with corruption by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB,) for offering free sex to three Lebanese football referees to induce them to fix a match.
Another incidence of match fixing currently under investigation by an independent commission backed by FIFA happened in South Africa. Cases of irregularities were first revealed in the South African press in July 2011, indicating that the 2010 World Cup warm- ups against Bulgaria, Thailand, Colombia and Guatemala had been fixed by SAFA. This briefly led to the suspension of SAFA president, Kristen Nematandani who henceforth, has been reinstated.
The World Cup warm- up match between Nigeria and North Korea played June 6, 2010 and the friendly match between Nigeria and Argentina are matches FIFA had suspected to have been pre- arranged. Both match Nigeria won by 3-1, and 4- 1margin respectively. However, spokesman for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF,) Ademola Olajire, claim they are unaware of this allegations and have not been communicated.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, in February, announced the result of an 18- month investigation into match- rigging. 680 games in 30 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America were believed to have been fixed between 2008 and 2011. The match between Liverpool FC and a Hungarian side Debreceni in the playoffs of the European Champions League, which Liverpool went on to win 1- 0, was among the fixture.
Issues of match fixing is a perennial problem, from the 74 officials and players banned from world football on February 27, 2013 to the match fixing probe of 2006 involving Italy’s top professional football sides, Serie A and Serie B.
When found guilty, penalties involve payment of fines, court arraignment, banning and relegation of club(s) or Person(s). Meanwhile, there are certain preconditioned factors which tends to bring about match fixing in football, amongst which is the issue of online betting, bribery and corruption, unhealthy involvement of mass media in football related cases.
The rise of online gambling sites where bets are made prior to an upcoming fixture is today, the most popular act of match fixing. After results are collated from these sites, the site’s management often times go on to contact match referees and (or) players in view of influencing scores. There’s a place called Poipet, a grimy gambling den near the Thai frontier, stuffed with casinos, illegal betting shops, and brothels in Cambodia. This Cambodian border town is today revealed as a key hub in the massive illegal betting industry. Online gamblers (punters,) indulge in the prediction of scores, who scores the first goal, at what time is the linesman liable to raise his/ her flag, who gets yellow- carded, who gets red- carded amongst many.
FIFA secretary general, Jerome Valcke, while speaking on the match- fixing scandal involving SAFA said “It is critical that structures are set- up in order to tackle similar cases should they happen in the future.” However match- fixing is a cancer worm eating deep into the roots of established football structures.