Earlier this week, the National Crime Agency (NCA), arrested a total of seven people whom they believe are involved in fixing football (“soccer” in U.S. terms) matches. The NCA is a national law enforcement agency located in the United Kingdom that focuses on border policing, economic crime, organized crime, and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
The Crown Prosecution Service’s Organized Crime Division found sufficient evidence to authorize charges of conspiracy to defraud. The two men at the center of the match-fixing dilemma were seen in court yesterday, November 29th, and will remain in jail after an appeal for bail was rejected. They will stay in custody until their case is heard at Birminghma Crown Court on December 13th, 2013. The two men, Chann Sankaran and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, could serve a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment if found guilty. “These men are alleged to be members of an international illegal betting syndicate based in Singapore.”
Although it is said that the Premier League (considered the best league) matches are not currently under investigation like the Football League or the Football Conference, it does not mean their League is clear of corruption. One of the seven men charged is a past player in the Premier League. Match fixing is considered an epidemic in football and there needs to be more awareness about this. The Telegraph, actually uploaded a video on their website of an investigator discussing fixed matches with a suspected Asian fixer. This conversation included statements such as, “I do Australia, Scotland. Ireland. Europe. World Cup. World Cup Qualifier” and “referee, the price for one game is 20 thousand pounds”. Additionally, he mentioned facts about players getting yellow cards in the beginning of the game to prove they are “in” on the current fixing of the game they are playing.
To start thinking this beloved game could be fixed at any time provides the feeling of uncertainty. Such as, watching a game and not knowing whether these players or referees are accepting money to affect the outcome. This is a global problem and needs a solution now. Due to the size of the betting market, countries need to work together to address this issue, mentioned by Chris Eaton, director of sport integrity at the ICSS.
What solutions do you think could work? Do you feel you are ever watching games that are fixed?
I do not watch “football” (soccer), but I can imagine how this could severely scar the sport. It vaguely reminds me of the steroid scandal from which Major League Baseball is only now beginning to recover. In both cases, the wrongdoing was rampant within the sport. Baseball’s image was severely tarnished by this, and football’s imagine would take a similar hit if confirmed stories continue to come to light. However, the positive note is that MLB was able to affirmatively take on these problems, and as a result the league, while not perfect today, is infinitely cleaner than it was just a few short years ago. Professional soccer, with its worldwide popularity, should take a similar approach to fighting the problem on its own, with its own resources. While this issue is certainly a concern for the dedicated football fans, it should not come at the burden of the taxpayers in these countries. Not that the government police forces, investigators, and courts have to be completely uninvolved, but the brunt of the expense should be borne by the Leagues. Unfortunately, football is up against a major battle that MLB did not, by in large, have to deal with, and that is the fact that its popularity is international and therefore it may be much harder to fight the game fixers. Football certainly has an uphill battle to rid their beloved sport of corruption.
Being a big sports fan, I never know when a game is being fixed or not. However, I realize that it is most certainly possible that any professional game could be fixed. Over the past decade or two, there have been numerous occasions of people getting caught for match fixing. In the early 2000’s, Tim Donaghy was caught for point shaving, and he was an actual NBA referee. This type of activity happens all the time in all sports, from NBA basketball to Sumo wrestling. As long as money is to be made, this type of activity will always occur. It is saddening for us fans that players of the sports that we love would participate in such acts. Fans look up to athletes and this type of conduct seriously changes one’s opinion not only on athletes, but on sports. The only way this can be combated is by making the penalty for doing so more severe. Deterring this type of activity via harsher punishment is probably the best way to have a big impact.
To me, fixing any type of athletic match defeats the purpose and undermines the integrity of athletes, fans, and competition. I would even go as far as to say it is equivalent to athletes using performance enhancing drugs. What Sankaran and Sanjey Ganeshan allegedly did is unacceptable and affects athletes’ careers and fans’ support. In the United States it started in 1919 when the World Series was fixed by Arnold Rothstein, New York member of the Jewish mob.
It shocks me that the world’s most popular sport was involved in a scheme that must have involved many participants to be carried out. Imagining the players, coaches, owners, or referees that must have kept this secret, for a payoff, is disappointing, Having been a high level athlete myself it is hard for me to understand how people, who claim to love and respect a sport, could commit such a perjury.
It is very saddening to hear news like this, and realize that sports fixing is more rampant than anyone realizes. What makes sports great is the integrity and unpredictability of the games. When there are outside forces manipulating the outcome of a match, it not only ruins the purity of the game, but it also has a ripple effect on the job security of thousands of athletes/coaches. The livelihood and longevity of a job in any sport is hugely dependent on wins and production. These criminals can be responsible for numerous professionals losing their jobs. I try to remain ignorant when watching a sports game and hope that a game is being played honestly. I don’t think it is as much of a problem in the U.S. as it is outside of the U.S., but it needs to be stopped. Severe punishments need to be had for all involved, with sentences in line with some of the more serious white-collar crimes.
Watching and playing sports is a huge pastime all over the world. Fans cheer when their teams win or cry when their teams lose. People proudly wear the jerseys of their favorite players and watch every game religiously. If games are lost deliberately, the thrill and excitement of sports lessens. Fans feel cheated and betrayed by the teams that they have routed for since childhood.
Money talks. Everywhere you look, money is involved in some way. Fixing games has been a problem for years. There have been several incidents in sports’ history where games have been thrown for some cash. One example is in 1919, when the Chicago White Sox lost the World Series. People believed that eight of the White Sox players had deliberately thrown the game in order to receive money from gamblers.
Another more recent example of game fixing is the 2012 Summer Olympics where several badminton teams lost matches on purpose to enable them to have better pairings in the final rounds.
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