Match-fixing in European sport

6 May 2020

Match-fixing in European sport

Undoubtedly, match-fixing damages the integrity of sport and its true values. To address this global phenomenon, it is important to have a clear understanding of what match-fixing is, why people get involved and all of its associated risks. 

In European football, players and stakeholders should acknowledge that fixing games is a disciplinary matter, that has severe consequences for everyone involved. Match-fixing can be categorised in two broader groups. The first group is match-fixing related to corruption, gambling or betting. This is when third-parties influence individuals to engage in match-fixing. Cases in this category are issues that intersect with crimes, laws and policies.

The second category of match-fixing is the manipulation of sports competitions by coaches or players, performed as either a tactic or strategy. This is known by the sports world as the ‘tanking of matches’, which could be considered as a punishable manipulation in some sports. In other sports, this similar act could be seen as a tactical move.

Who is involved in match-fixing?

Anyone can manipulate competitions, even if they are aware/unaware of the subsequent consequences. Individuals with a criminal background typically organise such corrupt activities, but it is not an act made alone. To deliver a successful fix, it requires the involvement of those with a high degree of influence on the game. But, why do sports people in the public eye agree to fix matches?

Individuals involved in sport can be manipulated more easily than those who are part of a team. Referees are often a primary target. In addition to club officials, as they can influence the club and its entire culture.

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

Duress is a more troubling reason for individuals to agree to match-fixing. Two forms of duress can take place.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 may be most attractive to players and stakeholders who feel as though their levels of remuneration are unjust.

If you would like to find out more information on match-fixing, then please click here.