UEFA and ESSA Team Up To Fight Match Fixing

On April 24th, a case of 16 individuals accused of match fixing is set to be determined. The suspects are said to have been involved in fixing the Thai League games that happened last year. In the spirit of cracking down the vice, Pornchai Cholwanichkul, the country’s deputy director general in the office of the AG department of Criminal Litigation, has promised to appoint at least 5 reputable and experienced prosecutors to work on the case.

All 16 suspects pleaded innocent and were granted bail. Among them are investors, football players, and referees.

In March, the Greek court of appeal sentenced several people accused of match fixing to imprisonment. The investigations on them were started in 2011 after UEFA’s betting fraud detection system suspected them to be guilty of fixing domestic matches. Some of the 41 were sentenced to about 30 months to ten years imprisonment. The investigation, popularly known as ‘koriopolis,’ is expected to set a good example to other courts and be a warning for match fixers.

Match fixing is playing with completely or partially pre-determined results. There are many reasons that could push players to play poorly. Mostly, it is done for the purpose of benefiting gamblers. Influential and connected people may pay corrupt coaches and players from certain teams to underperform. This is not only unethical. It is illegal and unfortunately, it is impacting negatively on sports. It is by far one of the biggest challenges facing the sports world today.

Another reason for match fixing is trying to get a future benefit. A team may decide to perform poorly on a match if losing will give them a chance to play against a weaker team and therefore increase their chances of winning. In some instances, it is the coaches that try to rig a game by intentionally making poor substitutions. This type of fixing may be really hard to prove.

Over the years, there have been numerous match fixing incidences. In 2005, a former German referee was sentenced to more than two years imprisonment after being convicted and found guilty of accepting a bribe to fix a match for a certain gambler in Croatia. In May 2009, a jury indicated University of Toledo athletes. They were guilty of participating in sports bribery. In 2011, Tampere United, a Finnish football team, was given indefinite suspension for sports fixing. In 2013, Ramez Dayoub of Lebanon was banned for life for involvement in match fixing. In the same year, 6 Britons were arrested for the same. Over the years, the incidents just keep getting worse.

Sportradar says that up to 1% of the matches they watch over are fixed.

Since many countries do not have elaborate anti-fixing laws, match fixing is getting more and more elaborate. Perpetrators know that they are likely to get sent to prison for just a few months or years or be fined a few thousand dollars. It doesn’t seem like enough to keep them away.

Few governments allocate enough resources to deal with anti-corruption measures in sports. Both players and coaches should be educated on the subject. Governments need to put in place proper legislation to curb the menace.

UEFA and ESSA efforts in stopping match fixing in football

Because of its strict policy against match fixing, UEFA has joined hands with ESSA to deal with the issue. It has signed an information-sharing agreement. The aim is to strengthen the fight. According to the president of UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, the body is committed to stopping match fixing. Match-fixing is punishable by a lifetime ban by UEFA.

ESSA is concerned with integrity in sports betting. It seeks to scan the betting world for any suspicious operators and fish them out. Through its efforts, it has managed to get intelligence on illegal betting and reported to the relevant authorities. ESSA protects people from corruption in betting. It has managed to form agreements of information sharing with IOC, FIFA and now UEFA. Both UEFA and ESSA are on the fight against match fixing. So, this new alliance is a step in the right direction.

UEFA has also developed BFDS. This is a system that can detect betting fraud. It analyzes approximately 32000 matches yearly. The ESSA alert platform specializes in detecting and tracking any betting activities across the world that seem strange. This way, it is easy to catch up with them regardless of where they are.

Integrity officers have been appointed within UEFA’s national associations. These officers work closely with EUROPOL, law enforcement officers and other authorities responsible for dealing with gambling. They also host educative programs on match fixing for coaches, referees and players. These officers deal with the issue on a more personal level.

Consequences of match fixing

Losing the fan base. Individuals or teams that are caught fixing matches end up getting a bad reputation. Most fans do not want to be associated with them. Since fixing usually involves the players performing poorly than they usually do, the fans end up disappointed.

Losing the innocent players. In some instances of match fixing, only a few players play to lose. While they do, the rest of the players work hard trying to win. When they are caught, these innocent players are likely to leave the team or find it hard to trust their team members. Unfortunately for them, sanctions on the team affect them equally. The innocent and guilty alike.

Imprisonment. Fixing matches is a criminal offence. If found guilty, one may be sentenced to years in prison or hefty fines.

Academic sanctions. Match fixing, if discovered, could lead one to lose their college scholarships. They may even get expelled from school or face other forms of punishment.

Losing sponsors. Association with a club is meant to attract positive attention to the sponsor. Even mere speculations of cheating are enough to repulse them.

Work sanctions. If found guilty of match fixing, teams or players undergo certain punishments. The punishment could be expulsion or loss of points.

Effects of match fixing in football

Match fixing has put a large stain on the beautiful game. The reputation of the game has been compromised. Thanks to the vice, it is now common to question just how genuine a match really is. Lots of people are fast losing confidence.

For fans and loyal citizens who trust their teams to win, it has taken away the sense of pride. You wonder if your team really won or they just got an opponent that was willing to let them win.

Match fixing actually endangers lives. Just like any other quick money fix, it is addictive. In Zimbabwe 2009, the national teams were ordered to lose their matches with guns pointed at them. It promotes money laundering and irresponsible gambling.

Fixing takes away the excitement of unknown results which is essentially the whole point of sports.

The issue of match fixing seems to be the 21st century monster in the sports world. As it turns out, you only need money and a handset to destroy a legacy built by sports heroes of previous generations. In time we will be able to see whether or not the efforts of UEFA bear any fruits.

: posted in Gambling No Comments

Comments are closed.