The Sweeper: Match Fixing in Europe
UEFA yesterday revealed more information about investigations into over 200 individuals alleged to have fixed matches in nine different countries with a press conference. This revealed that the vast majority under suspicion are domestic matches, with the German authorities having requested information from UEFA’s Betting Fraud Detection System in a number of cases, making 17 arrests yesterday. Several early round Champions League games are also under investigation, along with a number of Europa league matches.
According to a Swiss news report,”The group is suspected of trying to bribe players, coaches, referees and other officials and of running an international gambling ring that took bets from clients in Europe and Asia.”
Peter Limacher, Uefa’s head of disciplinary services, expressed the depth of concern. “We’re facing the biggest scandal in soccer,” he said at the press conference. “We’re content this is cleared up now, but we’re also devastated by the extent of the manipulation.”
The nine countries involved were revealed to be Germany (32 games), Turkey (29), Switzerland (28), Belgium (17), Croatia (14), Hungary (13), Austria (11) and Bosnia (8) and Slovenia (7).
On the heels of last month’s news that the Premier League was pressuring bookmakers to stop live betting on academy games, the deep-rooted tentacles of gambling and the potential for match-fixing to follow in European football is becoming an increasingly public concern of the authorities. The two may not be connected, but the massive investment into football by legal gambling companies now splashed across the shirts of so many teams (not too mention newspaper and blog websites) hardly sends out a pure message to begin with.
- I know you’re expecting me to to write about Thierry Henry — PR-backtracking with his call for a replay he knows won’t happen, Henry Winter losing the plot entirely like a kid who just found out Santa Claus doesn’t exist — but I have little to add to the shit-storm. Still, the Henry incident has sparked a further debate on the use of video evidence, supported in the British press by Andy Townsend, Patrick Barclay, and even an editorial in the Independent (is this really a matter of national concern now?). It’s curious, though, that none have noted additional assistant referees on the goaline surely would have spotted the infringement — perhaps because it has been Michel Platini who has led that experiment in the Europa League, a bit of the narrative that doesn’t fit grandiose gallic conspiracy theories.
- Like him or loathe him, Fake Sigi has a few posts of note you should take a look like: an interesting and insightful commentary on an interview with Columbus Crew GM Mark McCullers, addressing the worthiness of the Crew’s calls for public financing of further stadium infrastructure; calling out the pathetic Bud Light sponsored Kasey Keller signed scarf treasure hunt in Seattle (are they trying to give Portland fans more ammunition?); and a fairly unsuccessful take-down of Grant Wahl’s interview with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, given Wahl did get some interesting answers out of him, surely the point of an interview (albeit he’s right that the final question about Wahl’s own book was pretty cringe-worthy).
- Anyone good at interpreting dreams? Last night, Tottenham Hotspur were playing MK Dons (aka Franchise FC) in the Carling Cup final, and I was desperately trying to find a pub to watch it in America. I finally found one, got to to the top floor, only to my great surprise to find an entire roomful of screaming, belligerent MK Dons fans, who had unbeknownst to me become a phenomenon in American fandom. I had to fight to stay in the room to watch the rest of the game, which went to to penalties. Then I woke up.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.