What with match fixing allegations in cricket, and drug taking in cycling as well as other sports one wonders how many games are ‘clean’ and the results genuine in today’s sporting world. With betting organisations having taken over from cigarette companies in the seventies as the major sponsor of so many events and teams is it any wonder that some athletes have given into temptation? When one considers how much many of them earn, to most of us it is. However as one money specialist said recently some people genuinely believe that they will never have enough and have a very real fear of losing everything. Others are simply greedy.
What is terrifying is the news released yesterday in relation to football. A European police intelligence agency revealed that a 19-month investigation had uncovered widespread occurrences of match-fixing, with nearly 700 games globally deemed ‘suspicious.’ Mind you when one considers how many games of this global sport are played each year that is still not that high a proportion, but one game is too many.
The list of matches deemed ‘suspicious,’ is staggering and is believed to include about 380 games in Europe, covering World Cup and European championship qualifiers, as well as Champions League games, including one match played in England.
Officials of Europol, – an agency that works with countries throughout Europe, – have given details of their findings which will undoubtedly rock fans of the world game: The report says that USD$11 million in profits and nearly USD$3 million in bribes were discovered during the investigation. Which according to Director of Europol Rob Wainwright, uncovered “match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before.”
Once again, as with cricket an Asian based organized crime syndicate based is believed to be the main source of the match fixing activity. A blight that Europol believes stretches across at least 15 countries. They have found that in some cases individual bribes were paid in sums upward of USD$136,000. Heavy betting would then take place on the games that had been ‘fixed.’ Matches in Africa, Asia and South and Central America have been identified as suspicious, but it is the European element of the investigation which has caused the most shockwaves.
“This is a sad day for European football,” Wainwright is quoted as saying at a news conference in the Netherlands, “It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results, which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.”
Europol and Interpol officials announced that an international arrest warrant had been issued for the ringleader of the Asian syndicate enabling them to extradite him to Europe to face fraud and bribery charges. Europol did not publicly identify the ringleader, and rumours have already started circulating as to the identity of the ringleader, who is believed to be Singapore-based.
In addition to this news officials said on Monday that roughly 425 people were under suspicion because of the investigation, and that 50 people have already been arrested. The scope of the investigation covered games from 2008 to 2011.
There is no doubt that Football could be facing some heartache in the coming months similar to that suffered by cricket. Is no sport safe?