In organized sports, match fixing occurs as a match is played to a completely or partially pre-determined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law. There is a variety of reason for this, but the most common is in exchange for a payoff from gamblers. Players might also intentionally perform poorly to get an advantage in the future, such as a better draft pick, or an easier opponent in a playoff. A player might also play poorly to rig a handicap system.
Match fixing, when motivated by gambling, requires contacts (and normally money transfers) between gamblers, players, team officials, and/or referees. These contacts and transfer can sometimes be found, and lead to prosecution, by law or by the sports league(s). In contrast, losing for future advantages is internal to the team and very hard to prove. Often, substitutions made by the coach designed to deliberately increase the team's chances of losing (frequently by having one or more key players sit out, often using minimal or phantom injuries as a public excuse for doing this), rather than ordering the players actually on the field to intentionally underperform, were cited as the main factor in cases where this has been alleged.
Match-fixing generally refers to fixing the final result of the game. Another form of match-fixing, known as spot-fixing, involves fixing small events within a match which can be gambled upon, but which are unlikely to prove decisive in determining the final result of the game.
Match fixing is known by a lot of different names. Such names include game fixing, race fixing or sports fixing. Where the sporting competition in question is a race then the incident is referred to as race fixing. Games that are deliberately lost are sometimes called thrown games. When a team intentionally loses a game, or does not score as high as it can, to obtain a perceived future competitive advantage (for instance, earning a high draft pick) rather than gamblers being involved, the team is often said to have tanked the game instead of having thrown it. In pool hustling, tanking is known as dumping. In sports where a handicap system exists and is capable of being abused, tanking is known as sandbagging.
- 1 Motivations and causes
- 1.1 Agreements with gamblers
- 1.2 Better playoff chances
- 1.3 Better draft position
- 1.4 More favorable schedule next year
- 1.5 Match fixing by referees
- 1.6 Match fixing to a draw or a fixed score
- 1.7 Abuse of tie-breaking rules
- 1.8 Protest action
- 1.9 Individual performance in team sports
- 1.10 Effect of non-gambling-motivated fixing on wagering
- 2 History
- 3 Match fixing and gambling today
- 4 Match fixing incidents
- 5 See also
- 6 References
Motivations and causes
The major motivations behind match fixing are gambling and future team advantage.
Agreements with gamblers
There may be financial gain through agreements with gamblers. The most infamous example of this in North America was the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, in which several members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to fix the World Series.
One of the best-known examples of gambling-related race fixing (in motorsports) is the 1933 Tripoli Grand Prix, in which the winning number of the lottery was determined by the number of the race-winning car. One ticket holder held the number belonging to Achille Varzi, contacted him and agreed to share the winning should he win. Varzi contacted other drivers who agreed to share the money if they deliberately lost. Despite a poor start, Varzi won the race after his opponents deliberately underperformed throughout the race.
Better playoff chances
Many sports have tournaments where the result of one round determines their opponent in the next round. As a result, by tanking a match, a team can face an easier opponent in the next round, making them more likely to win.
In the National Basketball Association, there have also been allegations[by whom?] of teams tanking games to finish in sixth rather than fifth place in the conference standings, thus enabling the team in question to evade a possible playoff match with the conference's top seed until the final round of playoffs in that conference (for more details see single-elimination tournament). Additionally, the NBA is the only one of the four major professional sports leagues of the United States in which home advantage in the playoffs is based strictly on regular-season record without regard to seeding. This led to (unproven) allegations of late-season tanking by the 2005–06 Los Angeles Clippers in order to finish sixth instead of fifth in their conference; because of the league's playoff hosting rules, the Clippers would have home advantage in the 3–6 matchup but not the 4–5 matchup. Following that season, the NBA changed its playoff format so that the best second-place team in each conference would be able to obtain up to the #2 seed should it have the second-best conference record.
On occasion, a National Football League team has also been accused of throwing its final regular-season game in an attempt to "choose" its possible opponent in the subsequent playoffs.
Perhaps the most notable example of this was when the San Francisco 49ers, who had clinched a playoff berth, lost their regular-season finale in 1988 to the Los Angeles Rams, thereby knocking the New York Giants (who had defeated the 49ers in the playoffs in both 1985 and 1986, also injuring 49er quarterback Joe Montana in the latter year's game) out of the postseason on tiebreakers; after the game, Giants quarterback Phil Simms angrily accused the 49ers of "laying down like dogs."
In the Canadian Football League, since the introduction of the cross-over rule Western teams have been occasionally accused of tanking near the end of the season in situations where a loss would cause them to finish fourth place in their division and where such a finish was still good enough to secure a berth in the league's East Division playoffs. In recent years, the East has often been viewed to be a weaker divison than the West, however, if any Western team has actually attempted such a strategy up to and included the 2014 season, it has not paid significant dividends for them since Western cross-over teams have only won one Eastern playoff game and have never advanced to the Grey Cup championship game from the Eastern bracket.
A more recent example of possible tanking occurred in the ice hockey competition at the 2006 Winter Olympics. In Pool B, Sweden was to face Slovakia in the last pool match for both teams. Sweden coach Bengt-Åke Gustafsson publicly contemplated tanking against Slovakia, knowing that if his team won, their quarterfinal opponent would either be Canada, the 2002 gold medalists, or the Czech Republic, 1998 gold medalists. Gustafsson would tell Swedish television "One is cholera, the other the plague." Sweden lost the match 3–0; the most obvious sign of tanking was when Sweden had a five-on-three powerplay with five NHL stars—Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Lidström, and Fredrik Modin—on the ice, and failed to put a shot on goal. (Sports Illustrated writer Michael Farber would say about this particular powerplay, "If the Swedes had passed the puck any more, their next opponent would have been the Washington Generals.") If he was seeking to tank, Gustafsson got his wish; Sweden would face a much less formidable quarterfinal opponent in Switzerland. Canada would lose to Russia in a quarterfinal in the opposite bracket, while Sweden went on to win the gold medal, defeating the Czechs in the semifinals.
The 1998 Tiger Cup - an international football tournament contested by countries in South East Asia - saw an example of two teams trying to lose a match. The tournament was hosted by Vietnam and the eight countries competing were split into two groups of four. The top two in each group advanced to the semi-finals with the winners playing the runners-up of the other group. In the first group Singapore won the group with Vietnam finishing second. This meant that the winners of the second group would have to travel to Hanoi to play the host nation in the national stadium on their national day whilst the runners-up would face Singapore in Ho Chi Minh City where the final group match was taking place. As the two teams involved - Thailand and Indonesia - had both already qualified for the semi-finals it was in their interest to lose the match and finish in second place. As the game progressed neither side seemed particularly concerned with scoring whilst the defending was lackadaisical. As the match entered stoppage time the Indonesian defender Mursyid Effendi scored an own goal (overcoming the efforts of the opposition players to stop him). Both teams were fined $40,000 and Effendi was banned from international football for life.
The 2012 Summer Olympics saw at least two examples of actual or potential tanking of this type:
- In the most famous example, members of the Chinese, Indonesian and South Korean badminton teams were disqualified for intentionally losing matches to allow better pairings in the knockout stages of the competition. In what the BBC called a “night of shame,” players made simple errors throughout the match, despite boos from the crowd and warnings from the match referee to cease and desist. The Badminton World Federation had charged the four pairs with “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”
- In the women's football tournament, Japan intentionally played to a draw with South Africa in Cardiff so that it could finish second in its group and not have to travel to Glasgow, more than 300 miles away, for the first round of the knockout stage. Instead, Japan remained in Cardiff and defeated Brazil in the ensuing quarterfinal match en route to the gold medal match.
In February 2015, two girls' basketball teams representing Nashville-area Riverdale and Smyrna High Schools were found to be tanking a consolation match of their district tournament. The winner of the game would enter the same side of the regional tournament bracket as defending state champion Blackman High School (ranked as one of the country's top 10 teams by some national publications), setting up a potential match in the regional semifinals. The loser would avoid Blackman until the regional final, a game whose participants would both advance to the sectional tournament (one step short of the state tournament). During this game:
- Both coaches pulled their starters early.
- Riverdale intentionally missed more than a dozen free throws.
- Smyrna deliberately committed several failure to cross the midcourt line and over-and-back violations.
- Players from both teams deliberately tried to be called for 3-second violations. At one point, a player gave the official a 3-second signal in an attempt to get called.
- The final straw for the officials was when a Smyrna player attempted an own goal that did not count because the team had already been called for failure to cross the midcourt line in time. The officials then called both coaches aside, accusing them of making a mockery of the game.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, which governs high school sports in the state, took a very dim view of this escapade, banning both teams from further postseason play, fining the two schools a total of $1,500, and placing both teams on probation through the 2015–16 school year.
Better draft position
Most top-level sports leagues in North America and Australia hold drafts to allocate young players to the league's teams. The order in which teams select players is often the inverse of their standings in the previous season. As a result, a team may have a significant incentive to tank games to secure a higher pick in the league's next draft, and a number of leagues have changed their draft rules to remove (or at least limit) potential incentives to tank.
From 1966 to 1984, the NBA used a coin flip between the teams with the worst records in each of the league's two conferences to determine the recipient of the top pick. In the 1983–84 season, several teams were accused of deliberately losing games in an attempt to gain a top position in the 1984 draft, which would eventually produce four Hall of Fame players. As a result of this, the NBA established a draft lottery in advance of the 1985 draft, involving all teams that did not make the playoffs in the previous season.
Even though the current lottery gives the team with the worst record only a 25% chance at the top pick (with that team guaranteed no worse than the fourth pick), there can still be some incentive for a team to tank. In an interview for ESPN The Magazine just before the start of the 2013–14 season, an NBA general manager who chose to remain anonymous (though speculated to be either Rob Hennigan of the Orlando Magic or Ryan McDonough of the Phoenix Suns) stated that his team would try to tank that season to have the best chance at a top pick in the 2014 NBA draft, which was anticipated to be one of the deepest in recent league history.
The Australian Football League, the main competition of Australian rules football, has used a system of priority draft picks since 1993, with poorly performing teams receiving extra selections at or near the start of the draft. Prior to 2012, a team automatically received a priority pick if its win-loss record met pre-defined eligibility criteria. However, that system led to accusations of tanking by several clubs—most notably by Melbourne in 2009 (the club was found not guilty, but the head coach and general manager were found guilty on related charges). Since 2012, priority picks are awarded at the discretion of the AFL Commission, the governing body.of both the AFL and the overall sport.
Until the 2014–15 NHL season, the National Hockey League assured the last place team of at least the second position in its entry draft, with the first overall pick being subject to a draft lottery among the five worst teams. As NHL drafts typically include only one NHL-ready prospect, if any at all, in any given year (most others must continue developing in junior ice hockey or the minor leagues for several years before reaching the NHL), this rudimentary lottery has historically been enough of a deterrent to avoid deliberate tanking. However, in 2014–15, two elite prospects widely considered to be “generational talents,” Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, were projected to enter the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, thus ensuring the last place team at least one of the two prospects. This was most prominent with the Buffalo Sabres, whose fans openly rooted against their team in the hopes they would clinch last place in the league for much of the season (the Sabres themselves denied they were tanking and openly criticized their fans for suggesting the notion). Beginning in 2015–16, the top three picks in the draft will be subject to lottery, with all fourteen teams that did not qualify for the playoffs eligible to win the picks.
More favorable schedule next year
NFL teams have been accused of tanking games to obtain a more favorable schedule the following season; this was especially true between 1977 and 1993, when a team finishing last in a five-team division would get to play four of its eight non-division matches the next season against other last-place teams.
Match fixing by referees
In addition to the match fixing that is committed by players, coaches and/or team officials, it is not unheard of to have results manipulated by corrupt referees. Since 2004, separate scandals have erupted in prominent sports leagues in Portugal, Germany (Bundesliga scandal), Brazil (Brazilian football match-fixing scandal) and the United States (see Tim Donaghy scandal), all of which concerned referees who fixed matches for gamblers. Many sports writers have speculated that in leagues with high player salaries, it is far more likely for a referee to become corrupt since their pay in such competitions is usually much less than that of the players.
On December 2, 1896, former Old West lawman Wyatt Earp refereed the Fitzsimmons vs. Sharkey boxing match, promoted as the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Earp was chosen as referee by the National Athletic Association the afternoon of the match after both managers refused to agree on a choice. In the eighth round of a fight dominated by Fitzsimmons, Sharkey suddenly went down, clutching his groin, yelling foul. Referee Earp conferred with both corners for a few seconds before he disqualified Fitzsimmons for a foul that virtually no one saw. Fitzsimmons went to court to attempt to stop Shakey from taking the purse, but failed when the court ruled that the match was illegal and it had no jurisdiction.
Eight years later, Dr. B. Brookes Lee was arrested in Portland, Oregon. He had been accused of treating Sharkey to make it appear that he had been fouled by Fitzsimmons. Lee said, "I fixed Sharkey up to look as if he had been fouled. How? Well, that is something I do not care to reveal, but I will assert that it was done—that is enough. There is no doubt that Fitzsimmons was entitled to the decision and did not foul Sharkey. I got $1,000 for my part in the affair."
Match fixing to a draw or a fixed score
Match fixing does not necessarily involve deliberately losing a match. Occasionally, teams have been accused of deliberately playing to a draw or a fixed score where this ensures some mutual benefit (e.g. both teams advancing to the next stage of a competition.) One of the earliest examples of this sort of match fixing in the modern era occurred in 1896 when Stoke City and Burnley intentionally drew in that year's final "test match" so as to ensure they were both in the First Division the next season. In response, the Football League expanded the divisions to 18 teams that year, thus permitting the intended victims of the fix (Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers) to remain in the First Division. The "test match" system was abandoned and replaced with automatic relegation.
A more recent example occurred in the 1982 FIFA World Cup, West Germany played Austria in the last match of group B. A West German victory by 1 or 2 goals would result in both teams advancing; any less and Germany was out; any more and Austria was out (and replaced by Algeria, who had just beaten Chile). West Germany attacked hard and scored after 10 minutes. Afterwards, the players then proceeded to just kick the ball around aimlessly for the remainder of the match. Algerian supporters were so angered that they waved banknotes at the players, while a German fan burned his German flag in disgust. By the second half, the ARD commentator Eberhard Stanjek refused any further comment on the game, while the Austrian television commentator Robert Seeger advised viewers to switch off their sets. As a result, FIFA changed its tournament scheduling for subsequent World Cups so that the final pair of matches in each group are played simultaneously.
Another example took place on the next-to-last weekend of the 1992–93 Serie A season. Milan entered their match with Brescia needing only a point to secure the title ahead of crosstown rivals Inter, while Brescia believed a point would be enough for them to avoid relegation. In a 2004 retrospective on the "dodgiest games" in football history, two British journalists said about the match, "For over 80 minutes, the two teams engaged in a shameful game of cat-and-mouse, in which the cat appeared to have fallen asleep and the mouse was on tranquilisers." Milan scored in the 82nd minute, but Brescia "mysteriously found themselves with a huge overlap" and equalised two minutes later. The 1–1 draw gave Milan their title, but in the end did not help Brescia; other results went against them and they suffered the drop.
Abuse of tie-breaking rules
On several occasions, "creative" use of tie-breaking rules have allegedly led teams to play less than their best.
An example occurred in the 2004 European Football Championship. Because unlike FIFA, UEFA takes the result of the game between the two tied teams (or in a three-way tie, the overall records of the games played with the teams in question only) into consideration before overall goal difference when ranking teams level on points, a situation arose in Group C where Sweden and Denmark played to a 2–2 draw, which was a sufficiently high scoreline to eliminate Italy (which had lower-scoring draws with the Swedes and Danes) regardless of Italy's result with already-eliminated Bulgaria. Although Italy beat Bulgaria by only one goal and would hypothetically have been eliminated using the FIFA tie-breaker too, some Italian fans bitterly contended that the FIFA tie-breaker would have motivated their team to play harder and deterred their Scandinavian rivals from, in their view, at the very least half-heartedly playing out the match after the score became 2–2. The exact same situation happened to Italy in 2012, leading to many pre-game complaints from Italy, who many commentators suggested were right to be concerned because of their own extensive experience in this area. But Spain-Croatia ended up 1–0, and the Italians went through.
The FIFA tie-breaker, or any goal-differential scheme, can cause problems, too. There have been incidents (especially in basketball) where players on a favored team have won the game but deliberately ensured the quoted point spread was not covered (see point shaving). Conversely, there are cases where a team not only lost (which might be honest) but lost by some large amount, perhaps to ensure a point spread was covered, or to grant some non-gambling related favor to the victor. Perhaps the most famous alleged example was the match between Argentina and Peru in the 1978 FIFA World Cup. Argentina needed a four-goal victory to advance over Brazil, an enormous margin at this level of competition, especially since Argentina had a weak offense (6 goals in 5 games) and Peru a stout defence (6 goals allowed in 5 games). Yet somehow, Argentina won 6–0. Much was made over political collusion, that the Peruvian goalkeeper was born in Argentina, and that Peru was dependent on Argentinian grain shipments, but nothing was ever proven.
Although the Denmark-Sweden game above led to calls for UEFA to adopt FIFA's tiebreaking formula for future tournaments, it is not clear if this solves the problem; the Argentina-Peru game shows a possible abuse of the FIFA tie-breaker. Proponents of the UEFA tie-breaker argue that it reduces the value of blow-outs, whether these be the result of a much stronger team running up the score or an already-eliminated side allowing an unusually large number of goals. Perhaps the most infamous incident occurred in December 1983 when Spain, needing to win by eleven goals to qualify for the Euro 1984 ahead of the Netherlands, defeated Malta by a score of 12–1 on the strength of nine second half goals. Especially in international football, such lopsided results are seen as unsavoury, even if they are honest. If anything, these incidents serves as evidence that the FIFA tie-breaker can cause incentives to perpetrate a fix in some circumstances, the UEFA tie-breaker in others.
On occasion, teams tank games as a protest against actions in earlier games. The most lopsided professional football match in history, AS Adema 149–0 SO l'Emyrne, was a result of SO l'Emyrne intentionally losing the game in protest against the referee's action in a previous game.
Individual performance in team sports
Bookmakers in the early 21st century accept bets on a far wider range of sports-related propositions than ever before. Thus, a gambling-motivated fix might not necessarily involve any direct attempt to influence the outright result, especially in team sports where such a fix would require the co-operation (and prerequsitely, the knowledge) of many people, and/or perhaps would be more likely to arouse suspicion. Fixing the result of a more particular proposition might be seen as less likely to be noticed. For example, scandalized former National Basketball Association referee Tim Donaghy has been alleged to have perpetrated some of his fixes by calling games in such a manner as to ensure more points than expected were scored by both teams, thus affecting "over-under" bets on the games whilst also ensuring that Donaghy at least did not look to be outright biased. Also, bets are increasingly being taken on individual performances in team sporting events, which in turn has seen the rise of a phenomenon known as spot-fixing, although it is currently unlikely that enough is bet on an average player to allow someone to place a substantial wager on them without being noticed.
One such attempt was described by retired footballer Matthew Le Tissier, who in 2009 admitted that while he was playing with Southampton FC back in 1995 he tried (and failed) to kick the ball out of play right after the kick-off of a Premier League match against Wimbledon FC so that a group of associates would collect on a wager made on an early throw-in. Similarly, in 2010 Pakistani cricket players were accused of committing specific no ball penalties for the benefit of gamblers.
Effect of non-gambling-motivated fixing on wagering
Whenever any serious motivation for teams to manipulate results becomes apparent to the general public, there can be a corresponding effect on betting markets as honest gamblers speculate in good faith as to the chance such a fix might be attempted. Some bettors might choose to avoid wagering on such a fixture while others will be motivated to wager on it, or alter the bet they would otherwise place. Such actions will invariably affect odds and point spreads even if there is no contact whatsoever between teams and the relevant gambling interests. The rise of betting exchanges has allowed such speculation to play out in real time.
Since gambling pre-dates recorded history it comes as little surprise that evidence of match fixing is found throughout recorded history. The ancient Olympic Games were almost constantly dealing with allegations of athletes accepting bribes to lose a competition and city-states which often tried to manipulate the outcome with large amounts of money. These activities went on despite the oath each athlete took to protect the integrity of the events and the severe punishment sometimes inflicted on those who were caught. Chariot racing was also dogged by race fixing throughout its history.
By the end of the 19th century gambling was illegal in most jurisdictions, but that did not stop its widespread practice. Boxing soon became rife with fighters "taking a dive", likely due to boxing being an sport involving individual competitors, which makes its matches much easier to fix without getting caught. Baseball also became plagued by match fixing despite efforts by the National League to stop gambling at its games. Matters finally came to a head in 1919 when eight members of the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series (see Black Sox Scandal). In an effort to restore confidence, Major League Baseball established the office of the Baseball Commissioner, and one of Kenesaw Mountain Landis's first acts was to ban all involved players for life.
MLB Rule 21 prohibits players from participating in any form of betting on baseball games, and a lifetime ban on betting on a player's own games. A poster with Rule 21 must be posted on all professional baseball clubhouses.
Yaochō (八百長?) is a Japanese word meaning a cheating activity which is committed at places where a match, fight, game, competition, or other contest, is held, where the winner and loser are decided in advance by agreement of the competitors or related people. It is believed that the word Yaocho came from the name ("Chobei") of the owner of a vegetable stand (yaoya) during the Meiji period. Created from the first syllable of Yaoya and chobei, the word yaocho was created for a nickname of Chobei. Chobei had a friend called "Isenoumi Godayu" (7th Isenoumi stablemaster) with whom he played the game Igo, who had once been a Sumo wrestler "Kashiwado Sogoro" (former shikona: "Kyonosato") and now was a "Toshiyori" (a stablemaster of Sumo). Although Chobei was a better Igo player than Isenoumi, he sometimes lost games on purpose to please Isenoumi, so that Isenoumi would continue to buy merchandise from his shop. Afterward, once people knew of his cheating, they started to use yaocho as a word meaning any decision to win/lose a match in advance by negotiation etc. with the expectation of secondary profit, even though the match seems to be held seriously and fairly.
Economists, using statistical analysis, have shown very strong evidence of bout fixing in Sumo wrestling. (See also Match-fixing in professional sumo) Most of the motive for match fixing is helping each other's ranking to keep their salary higher, according to Keisuke Itai. For example, wrestlers in Jūryō (the second tier) desperately try to avoid finishing the tournament with a losing record (7-8 or worse) and exchange or buy the match result otherwise their salary would be nothing, literally 0 yen, with the participation wage of 150,000 yen every two months if they finish the tournament with a losing record, and their ranking would go down to Makushita (third level) and only participate in seven matches, the lesser ranking from Jūryō in which you can earn 1,036,000 yen monthly with some prizes and a full 15-match tournament.
The sumo association appears to make a distinction between yaocho (the payment of money to secure a result) and koi-ni-yatta mukiryoku zumo (the deliberate performance of underpowered sumo, whereby an opponent simply lays a match down without exchange of money). The intricacies of Japanese culture, which include subordination of individual gain to the greater good, and knowing how to read a situation without the exchange of words (i.e. I know my opponent's score, he needs help and I should automatically give it to him), mean that the latter is almost readily accepted in the sumo world, and is also nigh-impossible to prove.
Match fixing and gambling today
Influenced by baseball's experiences, the NFL and NBA have followed MLB's lead and adopted a hard line against gambling on its games, especially by those directly involved in the league. The NCAA takes an even harder line:
- It prohibits athletes, coaches, and athletics administrators at member schools, plus staff of member conferences, from gambling on any sport in which the NCAA holds a championship or any sport classified by the NCAA as an "emerging sport" for women. The prohibition includes professional competition in all of the aforementioned sports, and also specifically includes Division I FBS football, in which the NCAA does not sponsor an official championship.
- It also prohibits venues in championship play from carrying advertising for any form of gambling, including state lotteries.
Each of these organizations was, and may still be influenced by fears that their games could come under the influence of gamblers in the absence of these tough measures. Critics of such hard line measures note that in spite of such policies, such influence nonetheless does occur.
When international motorcycle racing (MotoGP and World Superbike) race in the United States, the online gambling sites that advertise are prohibited from having their advertising on the motorcycles, owing to the similar hard line against gambling enforced by the majority of sports federations in the country. AMA Pro Racing (the ASN for the FIM in the United States) regulations prohibit gambling advertising and prohibit participants from betting on races.
In Britain the authorities in both government and sport have taken a softer line on gambling. Following decades of relatively lax, intermittent and ineffective enforcement of laws prohibiting gambling, sports betting was finally legalized and regulated in the 1960s. Organizations such as The Football Association seem to have taken the stance that gambling on their events is inevitable. The FA only prohibits betting on a match by those directly involved in the game in question. Footballers (or coaches, managers, etc.) are not prohibited from betting on matches that do not involve their own team.
Match fixing in football remains a major concern. In Turkey in 2011 more than 30 players and staff have been convicted of game fixing. In South Korea, more than 50 professional soccer players have been indicted and ten players have received lifetime bans. In Finland, two Zambian players were convicted and more than a dozen people are under investigation. Other investigations are continuing in China, El Salvador, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Thailand, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. In the United States and Canada, Major League Soccer and the Professional Referee Organization have a "Match Manipulation and Gambling Policy Statement" poster similar to Major League Baseball's Rule 21 posted in the locker rooms banning any betting on any match that features the MLS.
The integrity of horse racing remains an ongoing concern since gambling is an integral part of this sport. Recent allegations of race fixing have centered around the recently formed betting exchanges which unlike traditional bookmakers allow punters to lay an outcome (that is, to bet against a particular runner). Most tracks prohibit jockeys from betting on races if they are riding during the day. Leading exchange Betfair has responded to the allegations by signing Memorandums of Understanding with the Jockey Club, The FA, the International Cricket Council, the Association of Tennis Professionals and other sporting authorities. These memoranda of understanding are evidence of the vast difference between British and American attitudes — as of 2008 it would be almost unthinkable for an American sports league to sign such an agreement with a bookmaker or betting exchange.
While British football has never been rocked by match fixing allegations on the scale of the Black Sox scandal (the aforementioned incidents involved league matches, not major championships), football match-fixing has become a serious problem in parts of Continental Europe.
Cricket has been scandalized by several gambling and match fixing allegations in recent years, particularly the case of Hansie Cronje in the late 1990s, culminating in the World Cup investigations of 2007. These highly publicised enquiries were prompted by the surprise defeat of Pakistan in the Cup by Ireland and the subsequent murder investigation into the sudden death, straight after the match, of Pakistan's head coach Bob Woolmer. According to the head of the ICC's anti-corruption unit Paul Condon, cricket is the most bet on sport in the world, and fixing is found at every level of the sport and is a significant problem. The 2008 novel Raffles and the Match-Fixing Syndicate, by Adam Corres, places E. W. Hornung's A. J. Raffles, 'the gentleman thief' into the world of cricket match-fixing. This black humour comedy includes speculation on the infamous Hansie Cronje and Bob Woolmer incidents and features serious aspects of cricket gamesmanship or 'how to defeat a superior opponent without actually cheating', a vital skill in the cricketing psychology of 'thinking the batsman out'.
The high salaries of some of today's professional athletes likely serves to insulate their leagues from player-instigated match fixing. In the NCAA and in leagues where the salaries are comparatively less (or, in the case of the amateur NCAA, zero), match fixing by players remains a serious concern.
Up until the 1920s, professional wrestling was a legitimate sport. This did not endure as professional wrestling became identified with modern theatrics or admitted fakery ("kayfabe"), moving away from actual competition. The worked nature of the art have made critics consider it an illegitimate sport, particularly in comparison to boxing, amateur wrestling, and, in more recent times, mixed martial arts.
Many individuals began to doubt the legitimacy of wrestling after the retirement of Frank Gotch in 1913. As wrestling's popularity was diving around the same time that Major League Baseball had its own legitimacy issues, wrestling started to take on a more worked approach while still appearing as a legitimate sport, beginning with the Gold Dust Trio of the 1920s. Even after the formation of the National Wrestling Alliance in 1948, wrestling continued to have legitimacy issues.
Nevertheless, wrestling was still regulated by state athletic commissions in the United States well into the 1980s, until Vince McMahon, owner of the World Wrestling Federation, convinced the state of New Jersey in 1989 that wrestling was considered a form of entertainment (or sports entertainment, as McMahon used) rather than as a legitimate sport, and that it shouldn't be regulated by state athletic commissions. The move was seen as more of a relief to those who had questioned wrestling's legitimacy, since at least one major company (in this case, the WWF) was now publicly willing to admit that wrestling was staged, however the move did anger many wrestling purists.
Today, despite the staged aspects of wrestling, it is still seen as a legitimate sport in several countries, such as Canada, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, while it is seen as a form of entertainment in the United States similar to that of the Harlem Globetrotters. Due to the lingering legitimacy issues that surrounded wrestling from the 1910s until the 1980s, gambling was generally not allowed on wrestling matches while it was still considered a legitimate sport. Despite wrestling having openly acknowledged that the results are predetermined for years, since the late 2000s gambling has increased on wrestling events, though the maximum bets are kept low due to the matches being predetermined.
Match fixing incidents
- In 1919, gamblers bribed several members of the Chicago White Sox to throw the World Series. This became known as the Black Sox Scandal and was recounted in book and movie form as Eight Men Out.
- In 1951, in the CCNY point shaving scandal, District Attorney Frank Hogan indicted college basketball players for point shaving from four New York schools, including CCNY, Manhattan College, New York University and Long Island University.
- In 1964, the great British football betting scandal of the 1960s was uncovered. A betting ring organized by Jimmy Gauld and involving several Football League players had been fixing matches. The most famous incident involved three Sheffield Wednesday players, including two England international players, who were subsequently banned from football for life and imprisoned after it was discovered they had bet against their team winning in a match against Ipswich Town. A similar scandal had occurred in 1915.
- In 1978, mobsters connected with the New York Lucchese crime family, among them Henry Hill and Jimmy Burke, organized a point shaving scheme with key members of the Boston College basketball team.
- 1980 Italian football scandal ("Totonero"): In May 1980, the largest match fixing scandal in the history of Italian football was uncovered by Italian Guardia di Finanza, after the spalling of two Roman shopkeepers, Alvaro Trinca and Massimo Cruciani, who declared that some Italian football players sold the football-matches for money; implicating, among others, AC Milan and Lazio. Teams were suspected of rigging games by selecting favorable referees, and even superstar Italian World Cup team goalkeeper Enrico Albertosi and future 1982 FIFA World Cup winner Paolo Rossi banned with betting on football games. Both clubs were forcibly relegated to Serie B and Milan's president, Felice Colombo, received a life ban.
- In 1985, Tulane University (New Orleans, Louisiana) players were involved in a point shaving scheme that led to the disbandment of the program for four years.
- In a 1994 Caribbean Cup qualification match, Barbados intentionally scored on its own goal to advance. Grenada realized what was happening and began to attack their own goal as well.
- In 1994, a comprehensive point shaving scheme organized by campus bookmaker Benny Silman and involving players from the Arizona State University men's basketball team was uncovered with the assistance of Las Vegas bookmakers, who grew suspicious over repeated large wagers being made against Arizona State.
- In February 1999 a Malaysian-based betting syndicate was caught attempting to install a remote-control device to sabotage the floodlights at FA Premier League team Charlton Athletic's ground with the aid of a corrupt security officer. If the match had been abandoned after half-time, then the result and bets would have stood. Subsequent investigations showed that the gang had been responsible for previously unsuspected "floodlight failures" at West Ham's ground in November 1997, and again a month later at Crystal Palace's ground during a home match of Palace's groundsharing tenant Wimbledon.
- In 2000 the Delhi police intercepted a conversation between a blacklisted bookie and the South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje in which they learnt that Cronje accepted money to throw matches. The South African government refused to allow any of its players to face the Indian investigation unit, which opened up a can of worms. A court of inquiry was set up and Cronje admitted to throwing matches. He was immediately banned from all cricket. He also named Saleem Malik (Pakistan), Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja (India). Jadeja was banned for 4 years. They too were banned from all cricket. As a kingpin, Cronje exposed the dark side of betting, however with his untimely death in 2002 most of his sources also have escaped law enforcement agencies. Two South African cricketers, Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje, are also wanted by the Delhi police for their role in the match fixing saga. A few years before in 1998, Australian players Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were fined for revealing information about the 'weather' to a bookmaker.
- The Italian Football Federation said in October 2000 it had found eight players guilty of match-fixing. Three were from Serie A side Atalanta and the other five played for Serie B side Pistoiese. The players were Giacomo Banchelli, Cristiano Doni and Sebastiano Siviglia (all Atalanta) and Alfredo Aglietti, Massimiliano Allegri, Daniele Amerini, Gianluca Lillo and Girolamo Bizzarri (all Pistoiese). The charges related to an Italian Cup first round tie between the two sides in Bergamo on August 20, 2000 which ended 1–1. Atalanta scored at the end of the first half and Pistoiese equalised three minutes from full-time. Atalanta qualified for the second round. Snai, which organises betting on Italian football, said later it had registered suspiciously heavy betting on the result and many of the bets were for a 1–0 halftime score and a full-time score of 1–1.
- In 2004, Portuguese Police launched the operation Apito Dourado and named several Portuguese club presidents and football personalities as suspects of match fixing, including FC Porto's chairman Pinto da Costa. Some of the wiretaps used as proof, deemed unusable in court, can now be found on YouTube.
- In June 2004 in South Africa, thirty-three people (including nineteen referees, club officials, a match commissioner and an official of the South African Football Association) were arrested on match-fixing charges.
- In the summer of 2004, Betfair provided evidence of race fixing to City of London Police that led to the arrest of jockey Kieren Fallon and fifteen others on race fixing charges. On 7 December 2007 the judge in the case ordered the jury to find Fallon not guilty on all charges.
- 2005 Bundesliga scandal: In January 2005, the German Football Association (DFB) and German prosecutors launched separate probes into charges that referee Robert Hoyzer bet on and fixed several matches that he worked, including a German Cup tie. Hoyzer later admitted to the allegations; it has been reported that he was involved with Croat gambling syndicates. He also implicated other referees and players in the match fixing scheme. The first arrests in the Hoyzer investigation were made on January 28 in Berlin, and Hoyzer himself was arrested on February 12 after new evidence apparently emerged to suggest that he had been involved in fixing more matches than he had admitted to. Hoyzer has been banned for life from football by the DFB. On March 10, a second referee, Dominik Marks, was arrested after being implicated in the scheme by Hoyzer. Still later (March 24), it was reported that Hoyzer had told investigators that the gambling ring he was involved with had access to UEFA's referee assignments for international matches and Champions League and UEFA Cup fixtures several days before UEFA publicly announced them. Ultimately, Hoyzer was sentenced to serve 2 years and 5 months in prison.
- In July 2005, Italian Serie B champions Genoa was placed last in the division by the sporting justice, and therefore condemned to relegation in Serie C1, after it was revealed that they bribed their opponents in the final match of the season, Venezia to throw the match. His president Enrico Preziozi was banned for five years after being guilty by the sporting justice. Genoa won the match 3–2 and had apparently secured promotion to Serie A.
- Brazilian football match-fixing scandal: In September 2005, a Brazilian magazine revealed that two football referees, Edílson Pereira de Carvalho (a member of FIFA's referee staff) and Paulo José Danelon, had accepted bribes to fix matches. Soon afterwards, sport authorities ordered the replaying of 11 matches in the country's top competition, the Campeonato Brasileiro, that had been worked by Edílson. Both referees have been banned for life from football and face possible criminal charges. Brazilian supporters have taken to shout "Edílson" at a referee who they consider to have made a bad call against their team, in a reference to the scandal.
- 2008 The Fix: Book by Declan Hill alleges that in the 2006 World Cup, the group game between Ghana and Italy, the round-of-16 game between Ghana and Brazil, and the Italy-Ukraine quarter-final were all fixed by Asian gambling syndicates to whom the final scores were known in advance. The German Football Federation (DFB) and German Football League (DFL) looked into claims made in a Der Spiegel interview with Hill that two Bundesliga matches were fixed by William Bee Wah Lim a fugitive with a 2004 conviction for match-fixing.
- 2008: On October 1, it was reported that a Spanish judge who headed an investigation against Russian Mafia figures uncovered information alleging that the mobsters may have attempted to fix the 2007–08 UEFA Cup semi-final between eventual champion Zenit St. Petersburg and Bayern Munich. Both clubs denied any knowledge of the alleged scheme. Prosecutors in the German state of Bavaria, home to Bayern, later announced that they did not have enough evidence to justify a full investigation.
- 2008: On October 4, suspicious online betting on the game between Norwich City and Derby County led some to question the validity of the Football League match. Gamblers in Asia were said to have placed a large amount of money down during halftime, which raised concerns over the outcome. The inquiry by The Football Association found no evidence that would suggest the match was fixed. Derby County ended up winning the match 2–1.
- 2009: In September 2009, Formula 1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. admitted to have intentionally wrecked his race-car during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix due to team orders. It gave an advantage to his teammate Fernando Alonso who went on to win the race. Following a lawsuit by the Renault Formula 1 team against the Piquet family, a judge ruled in Piquet's favor due to overwhelming evidence against the team; fining the Renault Formula 1 team millions, liquidating various employees, banning the team from Formula 1 for 2 years and various key members of Renault Formula 1 team being banned for life.
- 2009: On May 6, a federal grand jury in Detroit indicted six former University of Toledo athletes—three each from the school's football and basketball programs—on charges of conspiracy to commit sports bribery in relation to their alleged involvement in a point shaving scheme that ran from 2003 through 2006. It is believed to be the first major U.S. gambling case involving two sports at the same college. Since then, four former Toledo athletes, including at least one not named in the original indictments, have pleaded guilty on charges related to the scheme. One of these, former Rockets running back Quinton Broussard, admitted he had deliberately fumbled during the 2005 GMAC Bowl against UTEP (a game ultimately won 45–13 by Toledo) in exchange for $500, and had been paid to provide confidential team information to one of the orchestrators of the scheme.
- In November 2009, German police arrested 17 people on suspicion of fixing at least 200 soccer matches in 9 countries. Among the suspected games were those from the top leagues of Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Turkey, and games from the second highest leagues of Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland. Three contests from the Champions League were under investigation, and 12 from the Europa League.
- In 2010, several professional Starcraft players were suspected of being involved in illegal match fixing, with two people arrested and about seven gamers investigated, with two renowned gamers, Ma Jae-Yoon and By.CrocuS were confirmed as working as a broker between the bettors and the gamers.
- The fourth Test of Pakistan's summer 2010 cricket tour of England was alleged to have contained several incidents of spot fixing, involving members of the Pakistan team deliberately bowling no-balls at specific points to facilitate the potential defrauding of bookmakers.
- In April 2011, a U.S. federal grand jury in San Diego indicted a group of 10 individuals on charges of running a point shaving scheme affecting an as yet-undetermined number of college basketball games. Three of the accused have ties to the University of San Diego's men's basketball team—one was the team's all-time leader in points and assists; another was a former player; and the third was a former assistant. Games at the University of California, Riverside, where the second indicted player also played, were also mentioned as potentially being fixed.
- In June 2011, trials started for people allegedly involved in fixing Finnish football matches. One team, Tampere United was indefinitely suspended from Finnish football for accepting payments from a person known for match-fixing.
- In July 2011, As part of a major match-fixing investigation by authorities in Turkey, nearly 60 people suspected to be involved with fixing games were detained by İstanbul Police Department Organized Crime Control Bureau and then arrested by the court. The case did not come to a conclusion yet and the teams that are being accused of match-fixing are participating in the Turkish league currently.
- At the 2012 Summer Olympics, a match result was overturned and the referee was expelled from the tournament after a very controversial decision which included a boxer winning the match despite having been knocked down five times in one round, in violation of amateur boxing regulations. Under AIBA rules, both the mandatory eight count and three knockdown rule are in effect. Eleven months earlier, BBC reported on a possible bribery attempt, which could be related.
- The Match fixing investigations of Norwegian Second Division saw Norway and Sweden arresting individuals in 2012, including players of Follo FK and Asker Fotball.
- Operation VETO, a Europol investigation announced in 2013 that identified 380 fixed association football matches in 15 countries.
- In 2013 Lebanese match fixing scandal 22 Lebanese footballers were involved which led to a lifetime ban for Ramez Dayoub.
- In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the 2013 Federated Auto Parts 400 was scandalized by extensive manipulation of the race results by three teams—Michael Waltrip Racing, Penske Racing, and Front Row Motorsports—in an attempt to ensure that MWR and Penske drivers would earn places in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. When the manipulation was discovered, NASCAR imposed unprecedented penalties that knocked Martin Truex, Jr., one of the intended beneficiaries, out of the Chase, and also gave Jeff Gordon, an unwitting victim of the manipulation, a 13th place in the normally 12-driver Chase.
- In Indian Premier League in 2013, S. Sreesanth and 2 other players were banned for fixing in the match for using towel signs in bowling.
- In December 2013, six people in Britain, including Blackburn forward DJ Campbell, were arrested for allegedly fixing football games. The arrests were made by the National Crime Agency after release of a report from FederBet, a Brussels-based gambling watchdog, an organization created by the online bookmakers to watch the flow of bets across Europe.
- Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions
- Match fixing in association football
- Match fixing in cricket
- Organized crime
- Over-under (both teams combined score betting)
- Point shaving (attempts to manipulate a match score based on the point spread)
- Sports betting
- Spot fixing (attempts to maniuplate certain portions of a match)
- Team orders
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