Friday, 24 September 2010

Match-Fixing / Sports Corruption

Match Fixing/Corruption In Sport
Sport is a multi-billion dollar industry that generates billions of dollars each week.  There are many people who make a good honest living from the proceeds of sport.  There are, however, those iniquitous characters who employ nefarious methods to leverage ill-gotten financial gains from the unsuspecting public by persuading sportsmen and administrators to become complicit  in match-fixing and spot-fixing.  They use the lure of money to ensnare their victims – sportsmen and administrators alike - using sports betting outlets as their playgrounds.  Just how far this cancer has spread, is anybody's guess, but it is certainly far bigger than we anticipate.  One thing is clear, they are inflicting irreparable damage the sporting industry.
There are currently two high profile cases of match fixing doing the rounds. 
The first case is the alleged spot-fixing by four Pakistan bowlers who were required to bowl no balls in predetermined overs for substantial sums of money in their matches against England.   The bowlers were withdrawn from the tour.  The investigation is ongoing and has soured relations between England and Pakistan resulting in the Pakistan chief, Ijaz Butt, slamming Andrew Strauss's men as match-fixers claiming that England were paid to lose the third one-day international at the Oval, which Pakistan won by 23 runs. Butt claimed: "There is loud and clear talk in the bookies circle that some English players have been paid enormous amounts of money to lose the match.  "No wonder there was total collapse of the English side. We won the match and are under suspicion. England lost, their players should be investigated”.

The second case of match fixing involves three time world champion and current world no. 1 snooker player John Higgins.  In May, the News of the World alleged that Wishaw-born Higgins and his manager Pat Mooney had agreed to fix frames in a World Series of Snooker event in Ukraine for £261,000.  I am pleased to report that Higgins has been cleared of the match-fixing charges brought against him and will be free to resume his snooker career in November.   He has, however, been handed a back-dated six-month ban and fined £75,000 on the lesser charges of breaching rules by discussing betting and failing to report an approach from a party trying to instigate corruption in the game.  He was also ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.  

There is also the ongoing case of alleged match fixing during Steven Maguire's match against Jamie Burnett at the UK Championship in Telford on December 15.  

Match fixing or spot-fixing is a scourge that has tainted sport for many years now.  The first big scandal to hit the cricketing world was the Hansie Cronje match fixing scandal in India more than a decade ago.  Hansie admitted to spot-fixing, but never to throwing a match, which seems to indicate that players feel that spot-fixing is not as serious as throwing an entire match and are therefore more open to suggestions of this nature.  This is absolutely na├»ve and certainly not well thought through, because these actions have the same dire ramifications.

It automatically leads one to ponder just how endemic these surreptitious dealings actually are.  How deep and how wide have the tentacles of corruption infiltrated sport?
Just how many sporting codes have been or are affected by corruption?   Since sports-betting is such a massive industry, it is hard to see any (especially the big money spinners) escaping the clutches of the corrupt operators. 
Could this phenomenon be manipulated to the extent that a sportsman could buy his way to the no 1 spot, or worse even, a country pay its way to the top ranking in a particular sport.
What prevents a team from falsely accusing star players in an opposing team of corruption to weaken the opposition?
What effect does corruption by individual sportsman or teams have on a countries image?
How long before a player who has honestly lost his form, is accused of match fixing?
How long will the sporting public be willing to support something that may not be what it seems to be?  Could this drive the fanatical fans away?
How much longer will people be willing to place a wager on something so corrupt which renders their painstaking analysis null and void?
Has mankind lost its moral compass – are we all prone to selling our soul if the money is right?
Most importantly, is there a way to eradicate this scourge?
Is the future of sports-betting under threat?
 I will endeavour to answer these and other questions in future posts.  Your contributions will be welcome and will help to inform my thoughts on the matter.  Please leave a comment here or on  my blog


The video below will make the hair on your head stand up.  It gives you an indication of just how serious the situation is.