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England Must Get Its Head Out of the Sand With Relation to Match-Fixing

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.

Read: Listen to our exclusive interview with Declan Hill, author of books about match fixing.

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. 

The amnesty would work in the following way:

i)      It is time-limited. 90 days. No extensions.  If people do not turn themselves in that time they will receive life-bans from the game.   No exceptions. 

ii)    It must be anonymous.   Players who know about fixing and corruption will be afraid to report it openly, as this would break the ‘code of the dressing room’.   Give them an anonymous, non-transferable number when they come forward.

iii)   People who come forward and report fixing get to keep their money and the money of anyone whom they report.   This will raise the levels of distrust among the corrupt players so high that they will come flooding in like rats from a sinking ship.

iv)   It should be started immediately and run until mid-February.  

v)    Budget approximately £250,000.  Relatively small change for the English Football Association.

vi)   I have a roster of Metropolitan Police, New Scotland Yard and other UK Law Enforcement types who cut off their left hand to help protect British football. Hire one of them to run the program.  You need expertise that the average sports official simply does not have.

Hill knows better than I what motivates fixers and how to eliminate it from the English game. But one thing I do strongly feel is that we are just scratching the surface with these recent arrests. With as much money generated by gambling that happens around English football, it is not a great leap of faith to believe match-fixing is more extensive and more regular than we would like to believe.

Without faith in the integrity of our sporting institutions, the game itself hardly matters. The FA must take strong and decisive action to clean up English football. The first part of doing that is acknowledging the problem exists and then working towards solving it in concert with law enforcement and experts in the subject like Hill.

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  1. Pakapala

    December 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Remember now. This is what came out thanks to outside investigation, not because of the FA’s actions against match-fixing. Unfortunately they still keep their heads in the sand. It is evident that this has been part of the English game even at the top division (way before Asian syndicate involvement to be honest). If they can the FA will try to sweep this under the rug just like they have done in the past.

  2. Smokey Bacon

    December 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    These scumbags need sorting out. Cut off their goolies!

  3. Bishopville Red

    December 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    What do you mean, *if* this hits the EPL?

    The denials of match fixing in the UK today remind me of the denials of steroid use in MLB back in the day; “not necessary, not relevant, guys aren’t muscle-bound, doesn’t help hit a major league curve ball…” Plenty of excuses that were trotted out and allowed us to keep our heads under the sand despite the numerous and obvious signs of abuse.

    Now, it’s the same old chestnuts – What rich athlete needs money?, British integrity, only refs or Johnny foreigner, blah blah blah.

    As anyone who read THE FIX knows, there are plenty of bets to make, plenty of ways ways to “insure” a bet, plenty of people who need more money despite already having gobs, and plenty of others who can get hooked in via means other than money. Once the fixers have their claws in, you belong to them.


  4. Dust

    December 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    If this hits the BPL then the $hit will hit the fan.

    DJ Campbell arrested and released on bail…QPR player…blackpool player…not cool…on bail till April, talk about dragging it out.

  5. Jeff

    December 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Wwe are going to be hearing more and more about footballers doing this.

    Fear that this is a drip drip type scandal.

  6. Dean Stell

    December 9, 2013 at 11:31 am

    To be clear….I’m not saying all defenders are match fixing. Just that once that becomes your mindset as a fan, it becomes hard to shake.

    Soccer authorities need to beware of this mindset creeping into fans because it takes a LONG time for it to go away.

  7. Dean Stell

    December 9, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Maybe this is what is going on with David Moyes? 🙂

    Seriously, I agree. Given the vast amounts to be made in betting on football, it would be insane to suggest that there aren’t people trying to influence the odds in your favor.

    The other big problem with match fixing is that once you suspect it, you cannot unsuspect it. It’s that old legal saying that you cannot “unring the bell”.

    Once you become suspicious. you start to view matches differently. You know those tight games where the defense keeps making stupid fouls all around the edge of the box??? Well, maybe those defenders aren’t stupid and ill-disciplined or tired and lacking technique…..maybe they’re desperately trying to fix the match.

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