Tackling matchfixing: Lower leagues remain soft targets for criminal match fixers

By Patrick Kelly-Burton

March 8 – Lower leagues in world football are at far greater risk of being rigged than the  top divisions which enjoy most of the surveillance.

That was the main thrust of the presentation by Oscar Brodkin, Director of Intelligence and Investigation services, and Integrity services at Sportradar during the first day of the  inaugural Tackling Matchfixing conference in London.

Brodkin said his organization is so efficient that it has never failed to identify wrongdoing “where there has been match fixing proven for betting purposes.”

In order to help federations identify potential match fixing, Sportradar monitor the odds of 550 bookmakers across the world using their Fraud Detection System (FDS).

Giving one example of a high-profile fixture that was cited by Sportradar, during the World Cup Qualifier between Bolivia and Argentina in March 2017, Brodkin revealed that the movement of match odds increased normally and then dipped substantially, raising suspicion. “There’s a huge dip out of nowhere and of course there is a reason,” he says.

Forward Lionel Messi was suspended for the game and meant the fixture was voted as “not suspicious”, says Brodkin.

The Sportradar director suggested ways that criminals try to beat fraud detection:

Flying under the radar – Betting a tiny amount of money to evade capture.   “A little amount of money can’t pay the players enough in order to fix a game,” says Brodkin. “In markets where it is extremely liquid, you have to pay the players a lot more as it’s a higher level of game.”

Underground bookmakers – Some fixers believe they can evade monitoring systems if they just bet underground. Conversely, Brodkin says that many online bookmakers are themselves underground “a lot of the time” which increases the likelihood of passing a bet along to another bookmaker and starting a domino effect, a process leading towards the surveillance of betting monitoring systems.

The manager fix – “We tend to blame players or teams through betting patterns . ie this team lost, this referee did this, what about if the manager selects 10 or 11 youth players.”

In the event of unusual or suspicious behaviour, Brodkin says Sportradar track the individual from club to club and record what they’re doing. In the event that the same tactics are employed, Sportradar may consult the relevant governing body.

“Once we have FDS (Fraud Detection System) sorted, we move onto intelligence. It’s not efficient enough to just deliver a report on match fixing, but who’s behind the match fixing,” says Brodkin.

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