By Paul Nicholson
July 10 – A total of 397 matches in 2017 showed suspicious betting trends – 32 of those matches were friendlies, including international friendlies. Perhaps even more worryingly is that 62 youth matches showed signs of being fixed, according to a new football betting monitoring report.
The report – compiled by the Perform Group, Starlizard Integrity Services and TXODDS – analysed 54,757 matches in more than 500 competitions and across 90 countries, and gives a sobering snapshot of the trends in match-fixing.
What is most concerning is the volume of matches fixed against the number of cases that are investigated and lead to sanctions, leaving the football market wide open to match manipulation and match-fixers with more than 90% certainty they will get away with their crimes.
Football has, inadvertently, created what looks like near perfect conditions for organised crime and money laundering where matches can easily be fixed, the returns are huge and where dirty money can be washed clean and multiplied with very little fear of prosecution.
The report finds that the bulk of suspicious matches take place in Europe and Asia, with Europe leading the way with 241 matches compared to 71 in Asia.
In terms of percentage of total matches fixed by region, Asia is ahead of Europe with 1.34% showing suspicious betting activity compared to 0.75% in Europe.
The disproportionately high number of friendly games fixed – including international friendly matches – of 1.2% against 0.73% of all games, suggests a need to tighten and improve player education and for federations to become more vigilant.
The growing trend of match-fixers targeting youth football is concerning with the apparent ease they have manipulated 62 matches. This accounts for 16% of the total of suspicious betting on matches, a starkly higher percentage than the 8% of the data that was made up of youth games. Just taking this statistic on its own screams out for a need to act to safeguard the future integrity of the game.
The report breaks out the matches showing suspicious betting activity by tier within the football pyramid, where tier 1 is international matches with high maximum stakes per bet. The bulk of suspicious betting activity is in the lower tiers where the players are lower paid and more susceptible to the match-fixer’s proposition. The pre-condition of all match-fixing is that there is liquidity in the betting market. The report does not name the leagues where match-fixing is likely most prevalent.
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