One of the most fascinating and popular games around the world is football. It is a simple game played by anybody- kids, old people, the rich and the poor- everyone can play or participate in this game! It does not require formal training- all it needs a ball and some energy. This ease makes football such a popular game among the masses and for an event like the football World Cup, millions and millions of people from around the world come together. This has also brought together greedy players, coaches, referees, and so on to resort to the mean act of match-fixing. It is a simple thing to do- the winning outcome for a match is predetermined at huge odds and the involved individuals try to ensure that outcome. When the match ends in the desired outcome, the individuals involved, who had bet huge amounts of money, get much grander returns from cheating.
Image by Jan-Niklas Kö
When too much is not enough
There are many celebrated accounts of such match-fixing incidents throughout the world. Europe and Asia are two places where football is very popular, and these places are worst affected by such fixers. In fact, Asia sees exchange in billions when it comes to betting and match-fixing. Similarly, European leagues in all levels see the maximum incidences of match-fixing. For example, in 2005, the German referee Robert Hoyzer was found guilty of match-fixing. He was approached by Ante Sapina, a bar owner from Croatia addicted to football betting. Robert Hoyzer was offered €67,000 along with a high-end television set by the bar owner to fix the matches. It is reported that the corrupt referee had fixed as many as 23 matches in the league through his controversial decisions on penalties and red cards.
Match-fixing not only involves buying coaches, players, or goalkeepers but could also entail grand schemes and plots. One such example was a match between Togo and Bahrain held in 2010 where Bahrain won 3-0. Josef Hickersberger, the Austrian coach of the Gulf nation was flabbergasted at the unfit nature of the players from the opposing team. The match already looked dubious but more drama was to come when news of this result reached Africa. The Togo FA claimed that they had no idea that such a team existed and upon investigation, it was found that a former coach, Tchanile Bana was involved in this. He has assembled together with a group of fake players who will represent the Togo team and a payment of 60,000 USD has been made for the same by an international syndicate. Further investigations brought to light that other officials within the Football Association were also involved in such corrupt practices.
When ghosts do the job
A team of fake is still believable! However, the fixers have become so innovative that there are even ghost matches. It is very difficult to fix a match at times because one needs understanding and participating individuals. There is always the chance of someone ratting out to the authorities. In 2015, a match was supposedly played between two teams from Belarus. The result was also declared to be 2-1 and was reflected on the official websites of both the clubs. However, this match had never taken place. Such ghost matches have also become a very common occurrence because of all the fixers available out there. This was also a sensational occurrence and only upon being forced by international reports that the local authorities started investigating such matches. One of the teams had claimed later that their website had been hacked into which led to the belief that data analysts and the likes were also involved in such football betting scandals.
Prison is an option
In 2015, the Southeast Asian Games were held Rajendran R Kurusamny was given a prison sentence of 4 years for fixing matches. This was one of the highest sentences ever given for incidents of match-fixing. Kurusamny was one of the most notable match-fixers in Singapore. He had been successfully fixing matches for a long time and could only be nabbed down when the details regarding a fixed match between Timor-Leste and Malaysia were revealed. This match involved monetary transactions of 15,000 USD and other payments to 7 players were made such that they lost.
Match-fixing has become a very common occurrence in the present day, but such practices in games have always existed. Even during the Olympics games held in ancient Greece, such malpractices were prevalent. The statues of Gods outside the stadiums were in fact built by fines obtained from corrupt players and coaches. But match-fixing nowadays has reached a different level. It is a huge organization of corrupt people taking advantage of human greed to fix matches. Fixing of matches takes away the fun and energy from it! It is just like a well-scripted film and destroys the nature of the game. Such incidents need to be carefully catered to by the many Football Associations locally to ensure safe and great matches. If the match-fixers are not snubbed now, soon, fixed matches are all that we will get to see!
Behind the scenes
Betting is an interactive activity and millions of people from all around the world participate in betting activities. Be it a local card game or the impressive slot machines of Las Vegas or Atlantic City, betting is taken up enthusiastically by people from every stratum. One place which sees rampant betting is any sporting event. A healthy competition between two individuals or two teams is a hotbed for betting activities. However, the outcome of these matches could be fixed and many betting agencies or players or even teams take advantage of fixed matches to earn more from their betting activities. Betting itself has many negative implications and problem betting is indeed a huge problem, but such instances of match-fixing end up as a downright criminal offense. The bet is compromised and so is the match destroying the best of both worlds in a single stroke. There is however one thing that is hard to grasp. Man football players – even in the low leagues make decent amounts of money. Why do they put it on stake for “quick cash”?