Match-fixing in European sport

Match-fixing in European sport

Match-fixing is widely regarded as one of the biggest threats facing contemporary sport. Match-fixing goes further than simply those who discredit the sport. It undermines the overall spirit of the game and principles of respect, fairness and integrity. The widespread and global nature of match-fixing has made it a problem that has now become a priority for public authorities and sports movements worldwide. Calling attention to the responsibility everyone has, in promoting clean and fair competitions.


What is Match-fixing?

Match-fixing can be categorised in two broader groups. In European sports, there have been several occurrences of match-fixing by corruption, gambling, or betting. This is when third party agents influence individuals to engage in match-fixing. Cases in this category are frequently issues that intersect with crime, laws, and policies. The majority of match-fixing incidents in this first group involve large winnings in the gambling market. If you knew in advance what is going to happen, it is a lot easier to bet on a team and a certain outcome. Then gambling is not gambling anymore, it is ‘knowing’.

The second category of match-fixing comprehends the manipulation of sports competitions by coaches or players, as either a tactic or strategy. This is known by the sports world as the ‘tanking of matches’. Match-fixing of this kind, motivated by sporting reasons, can take many forms. The most well-known form is ‘throwing a tie’. This often displays itself during group phases of a tournament where both teams can place themselves by means of a draw.

This group of match-fixing is not necessarily considered as punishable manipulations whereas the first group is. Instances of tanking a match are rarely as clear-cut as match-fixing motivated by corruption, gambling or betting. In some sports, tanking could be considered as (punishable) manipulations, while in others this similar act could be seen as a tactical move.


Who is involved in Match-fixing?

Anyone can manipulate competitions. Individuals with a criminal background can be the fixer, players and their teammates or club owners. But why do people involved in sport agree to match-fix?

Coaches and players are more likely to fix a match when a specific game does not affect the final outcomes of the competition. ‘Spot-fixing’, is when an individual purposely carries out a certain action, but not necessarily with the intention of losing a game. Therefore, any feeling of guilt is significantly lower, meaning those involved may be more open to offers made to them.

Individuals involved in sport can be manipulated more easily than those who are part of a team. Therefore, referees are often a primary target as they have a high degree of influence on the outcome of competitions. In addition to club officials, as they can influence the club and its entire culture.

Duress is a more troubling reason for individuals to agree to match-fixing. Two forms of duress can take place, duress by threats and by circumstances. Duress by threats is when a person orders someone else to commit a specified match-fix, while threatening them with a warning of death or serious violence. It leaves players feeling like the only way of protecting themselves or their loved ones is to carry out the fix. However, with duress by circumstances, there is no requirement that a person specifies that a crime must be committed. Although, there must still be a sufficient connection between the threat and the crime.

The most common reason of all is the enticement of money. This particular reason may be most attractive to players and stakeholders who feel as though their levels of remuneration are unjust. This is often displayed in lower league football as it is examined less rigorously, less strictly scrutinised and is a lower priority in the overall football pyramid.