Match-fixing down slightly as fixers target weekdays and international games, finds report

September 2 – The number of betting related fixed matches saw a fractional decrease in 2020, according to the third annual Suspicious Betting Trends in Global Football Report.

“The percentage of matches identified as having suspicious betting patterns has decreased from 0.61% to 0.56%,” said the report authors.

However, they did pick up worrying trends of an increase in suspicious betting patterns in national team games as well as what a clear trend by match-fixers to targeting mid-week games as opposed to Saturday matches.

“Suspicious matches involving national teams rose to 1.53% of all those reviewed in 2019, from 1.01% the previous year. One national men’s team were involved in four suspicious matches out of the 13 matches they played during 2019. However, suspicious matches involving clubs from different countries decreased from 0.93% to 0.65% year-on-year,” said the report.

Data for more than 80,000 matches was used to compile the report with matches played on Monday to Friday making up almost 60% of all suspicious matches compared to fewer than 40% of all those reviewed from 2019. “The proportion of suspicious matches played on Wednesdays in 2019 was almost three times that of Saturdays.”

Affy Sheikh, Head of Starlizard Integrity Services, said: “Although the percentage of matches identified as suspicious has fallen, it is important that the football world remains alert to integrity threats at all levels of the game, particularly with the additional financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In producing this report, a vast amount of data has been analysed in order to provide sports and integrity stakeholders with detailed intelligence on suspicious betting patterns across many different competitions and countries.”

A positive outcome of the analysis was that the number of suspicious women’s matches remains very low, with just five played in 2019 down from six the previous year. This was despite an increase in attention for the women’s game. However, friendly matches are still reckoned to be an integrity threat displaying a disproportionate of suspicious betting patterns.

A total of 456 matches were found to have suspicious betting patterns.

Jake Marsh, Global Head of Integrity, Stats Perform, said: “A concerted effort has been made to analyse the largest tranche of data possible to help raise awareness of specific areas and to get under the skin of suspicious betting patterns. Match-fixing is a sensitive and complex issue and this report is intended to contribute to the overall understanding of what is arguably the greatest threat to the heart of football’s integrity.”

Read the full report here

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