British authorities are uncovering more and more evidence of potential match fixing in English football. The latest arrests stem from alleged match-fixing in the Championship, England’s second tier league. Just days ago many pundits were dismissing the previous round of arrests around match-fixing to be” isolated” and “simply in the semi-professional ranks.” Monday’s arrests should erase any doubt that English football has a potential problem that must be eradicated.
With the money flowing into the game, it is easy for the carefully crafted public image the Premier League, Football League and FA have created to want to avoid discussion of this topic. However merely sticking ones heads in the sand will only exacerbate the problem and the potential long-term consequences. Asian syndicates and gambling money have grown larger and larger in recent years, leading to repeated allegations of match-fixing in all corners of the globe. England is not immune from this spreading cancer as recent events have reminded us. Only strong and decisive leadership by the top brass of English football can save the sport from potential undermining of the integrity of the game and embarrassment down the road.
The temptation to work with fixers has always existed. Denial of these potential problems or simply acting as if they are isolated incidents will eventually bring English football into disrepute. The FA has yet to show any real public willingness to take on this issue and large segments of the press that are connected to the sport have either marginalized or avoided the topic outright.
As I discussed last month with Declan Hill, simple actions such as an innocuous early booking could be setup by fixers. In his research, Hill finds that the majority of match-fixing is done by veteran players not young players potentially needing money as was previously assumed. The allegations against the likes of DJ Campbell and Delroy Facey fit this pattern.
Following the allegations and arrests connected with Facey, Hill called upon the FA to take serious action. His thoughts are below.
“Declare an amnesty for all players, coaches, referees and officials involved in fixing. Clean out the sport properly. This means that the British game will only have to endure one massive scandal that occurs at one time. After this the game can recover. Allow the problem of fixing to fester and the credibility of British football will be killed by a steady drip-drip of scandals.