The sad events in Melbourne over the weekend which saw a club’s reputation and those associated with it decimated following the arrest of nine players and a coach accused of match-fixing came as a shock but no surprise. Not the Footy Show highlighted issues such as this back in March this year (Australia – You bet)
With Australia having such a strong betting culture, and the ability to bet on pretty much anything becoming easier and easier, this should not have come as a surprise to anyone.
It would appear that those involved in this alleged incident were extremely foolish and none too clever in the way they went about influencing results, if what has been reported is to be proven.
Already sadly the rivalry between codes in this country vying for supremacy has seen some quick to sink the boot into football, but rest assured this is not the only code in which this problem exists, it is just that it is the code with the most betting appeal globally.
Where there is neglect there is opportunity, and many sports around Australia and overseas have neglected the clubs from where the stars of tomorrow come. Sponsorship has become harder to come by, prize money has diminished and across the board clubs are looking to cut costs. That in turn means that players too may miss out on the rewards due to them. That opens up the opportunity to unscrupulous souls to come and dangle financial carrots in front of players and clubs. Sadly as is always the case if it looks too good to be true it usually is.
One has to feel for all those associated to the Southern Stars club who have done no wrong. The volunteers who have turned up each week to support the club the care about. They are the victims in this whole horrible situation. How or if the club will bounce back from such a scandal will be interesting. Hopefully those who have played coached, and supported the club in years gone by will not be tarnished. The club inevitably will be, and so too the Victorian Premier League, at a time when it really could have done without such news; as it prepares to take the games governing body to court for mismanagement.
No doubt Cricket Australia will also be monitoring the situation carefully as their women’s team share the same name, The Souther Stars, and unfortunately that simple fact could also have a negative impact on their sponsorship pulling power.
It is indeed a sad day for sport.