Is it any surprise that match fixing occurs? Every year countless billions are wagered on sports around the world. In 2011, $3.2 billion was wagered on sports… in Nevada casinos alone! Just online sports gambling in England, France, Italy and Spain equals about $15 billion. Between legal and illegal (or casual) gambling, we are talking many, many, MANY billions of dollars worldwide. This magnitude of money attracts a lot of people and companies – and not all of them are upstanding.
It probably isn’t too hard to fix matches. All you need is a married footballer, beer and a prostitute willing to record her “encounter” with the footballer. The footballer even pays for their own beer! Awesome! All the match fixer needs to recoup is a few thousand dollars of prostitute expenses and that’s pretty easy: Just suggest to the footballer that the video will be released to the footballer’s wife if he demonstrates any sort of first-touch in a key game next month. The bonus is that now that football is a proven womanizer AND a match-fixer. You’ll own him for the rest of his career.
The question is probably why doesn’t this happen more often. The logical conclusion is that the only thing holding back match fixing is the knowledge that other shady individuals are compromising other footballers and that they might cancel each other out. Gah….it hurts my brain and I’d rather not even think about it..
Perhaps a better question is: “What do we do about it?” Common solutions are usually things like player education and increased law enforcement. Neither is likely to be effective because that’s what we do now and it doesn’t work very well.
Here’s an idea: How about enlisting the services of those who are economically screwed by match fixing? No, I’m not talking about the clubs. Real Madrid recently topped Deloitte’s “Money League” with ~$660 million in revenue. Yawn….small potatoes….. I work at a moderately sized U.S. medical center that generates about four times as much revenue as Real Madrid. These clubs are really small concerns from a financial standpoint.
Did you see those BILLION numbers at the top? Legal sports gambling operations are the biggest losers in match-fixing scandals. Those operations exist on the appearance that average sports fans can win money gambling on sports. When average sports fans decide that the game is rigged against them and that the only people making any money are the scumbags, then the average sports fans reduce their gambling. That is bad for a legal sports gambling operation, so they have the largest interest in cleaning up the sport.
Sports leagues would be well-advised to stop treating legal sports betting operations like pariahs. These legal operations have the biggest interest in the games being fair. Further, these legal operations probably have some sophisticated ideas about how to catch the shady individuals who sully our favorite games.
Plus, it’s a much better idea than my second best idea of publishing the names and addresses of match fixes in the paper and letting the industry “self-regulate”. Ha….only kidding!