25 professional football players gambled on their own games or their own league
25 professional football players have in recent months gambled on matches in which they themselves played or on their own league. According to football regulations, this is punishable. These are players from the Dutch Eredivisie (six) and first division (19), as well as two more amateur players from the second division.
The numbers are contained in a ‘trend analysis’ by the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU), a hotline of the Gambling Authority for signals of possible match-fixing. The document is in the hands of NOS.
Between October 2021 and December 2022, betting agencies made a total of 40 reports to the SBIU about possible match-fixing. Twelve of these involved unusual occurrences in foreign matches, but in almost all other cases football pros were involved in unauthorised gambling.
Further investigation by police
In a few cases, reports about gambling footballers were so suspicious that it is now with the police for further investigation. Concrete details about these cases are not known.
According to the Gaming Authority, some players appear to bet money on matches in which they themselves play, some only on matches of competing teams in the league. There were also players who made both types of bets for small amounts.
According to the VVCS, the union for professional footballers, the signals about the 27 players do not come out of the blue. A recent survey of more than 200 players who play football in the Netherlands previously showed that 11 per cent gamble on their own matches or leagues they participate in.
Why professional footballers are not familiar with the gambling rules? According to the players’ union, ignorance plays a major role and there is often no malicious intent. Educating footballers about the gambling rules is therefore much needed.
“Betting on matches in home leagues explicitly violates football regulations,” the KNVB said in a comment. While the association says it is aware of the 27 reports, it has no further details.
In cooperation with UNIBET, EFDN has set up a programme to combat this issue in football. As stated above the main issue at hand is that of ignorance and therefore, the education of footballers is vital in eradicating this issue from the game and keeping the integrity within the sport.
Match-fixing is seen as one of the biggest threats facing modern-day football. It undermines the overall spirit of the games and the principles of fairness, respect and integrity. The widespread and global nature of match-fixing has made it a problem that has now become a priority for sports movements and public authorities worldwide. Such that, the European Football for Development Network has created the Fair Sport 4 All programme, to call attention to the responsibility everyone has, in promoting clean and fair competitions.
Together with UNIBET, EFDN has already held workshops at, SC Cambuur and Club Brugge, and will continue to host these workshops with the goal to educate the football clubs of their responsibility in football. If any club would like to participate in such a workshop, please contact EFDN.
Legislation does not allow betting agencies to share information about player names, matches and wagers with the KNVB.
“Sports federations only receive a signal anonymously and do not know which player is involved,” the KNVB states. “Because of this lack of information, we cannot investigate further and/or proceed to disciplinary proceedings.”
No urgency with authorities
So where did the 27 reports about footballers end up? To the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), an organisation that receives around half a million reports on suspicious money transactions every year.
In 2021, this organisation announced that while it takes reports related to match-fixing seriously, it will not pick up reports in advance as a matter of urgency. Unions then feared that the fight against match-fixing and unwanted gambling would fall behind.
So far, it is sporadic that footballers get caught for gambling on matches or competitions in which they themselves are active.
Last year, defender Tom Beugelsdijk accepted a five-match suspension (two suspended) after gambling on several premier league matches. AZ midfielder Jordy Clasie received a two-match suspension after his online account was used to gamble on Jong AZ matches, among others.